If you’re a Chennai Super Kings supporter, you’ll remember MS Dhoni‘s sensational 29-ball 54 not out against Kings XI Punjab in Dharamsala in 2010 and that rare, pumped-up celebration where he jabbed himself in the jaw like a boxer. That was probably the moment when Dhoni became Chennai’s thala. Here are five less-known contests that only hardcore Super Kings fans will recall.
Spin barrage at Kingsmead
v Kings XI Punjab, 2009
Kingsmead isn’t Chepauk, but Super Kings’ spinners rallied to make their team’s 116 for 9 in this game the lowest total successfully defended in the history of the IPL. Kings XI’s line-up was packed with left-handers, so Super Kings looked to counter them by yanking rookie R Ashwin off the bench and uniting him with the vastly experienced Muttiah Muralitharan and part-timer Suresh Raina.
Muralitharan let rip biting offbreaks and doosras, and at the other end Ashwin relentlessly attacked the stumps and took the prized wicket of Kumar Sangakkara. From a reasonably well-placed 32 for 1, Kings XI collapsed to 92 for 8 at the end of the 20th over, with the three offspinners returning combined figures of 12-0-38-6.
Raina the Ripper
v Victoria, 2010
The Super Over ended in defeat for Super Kings, but it was an achievement that they even got there, given Victoria were, at one point, cruising at 104 for 2 in pursuit of 163. Then Muttiah Muralitharan dismissed Matthew Wade and Andrew McDonald off successive balls in the 12th over. But David Hussey took charge of the tricky chase, and it came down to 24 needed off 18 balls when, from out of nowhere, Suresh Raina prised out two wickets in the 18th over and then another two in the first three balls of the 20th. Victoria eventually needed one run off the last ball. Bryce McGain wildly slogged and missed an offbreak, and a subsequent mix-up saw MS Dhoni chuck the ball to Raina, who completed the run-out. Hussey then sealed the deal in the Super Over, cracking Ashwin for three sixes. Super Kings’ batsmen – Vijay and Raina – ultimately came up well short amid a thin drizzle.
When Ashwin was used as opener
v Kolkata Knight Riders, 2013
Super Kings don’t usually tinker with their line-up much, so when they were set a target of 120 by hosts Kolkata Knight Riders in 2013, everyone expected M Vijay to walk out to open alongside Mike Hussey though Vijay was out of form. Instead, Super Kings elevated R Ashwin to the top. While he only scored 11 off 13 balls, the match provided a rare instance of MS Dhoni’s men going against the grain. In the end, Hussey’s steady 40 and Ravindra Jadeja’s rapid 36 – he struck at 257.15 on a surface where nearly everybody else struggled – sealed victory.
When they stopped Morkel in time
v Delhi Daredevils, 2015
Chepauk was used to watching Albie Morkel launch mighty sixes and whistling for him. However, in 2015, he was in Delhi Daredevils colours and gave Super Kings a serious scare with a 55-ball 73 in a chase of 151. Even as wickets kept falling at the other end, Morkel dug deep and took it to 19 needed off the last over, bowled by Dwayne Bravo. Morkel edged the first ball past the keeper for four, and mis-hit the next to long-on for a single. Bravo had Imran Tahir holing out the next ball, but Morkel walloped the fourth over midwicket for six, and followed it with two runs off the fifth. Delhi needed six off the last ball, and Bravo missed his length. Morkel wound up and lofted the ball, but it bounced once before reaching the long-off rope. Delhi were denied by about six feet. MS Dhoni’s cardiac Kings had finished on the right side of yet another thriller.
Dhoni fireworks in Ranchi
v Sunrisers Hyderabad, 2013
In his first two high-profile matches in his hometown, Ranchi, one for India and one for Super Kings, MS Dhoni had not done much with the bat. In the third, this Champions League T20 group match, he launched Thisara Perera for five sixes in an over, including one that was reminiscent of the six over long-on that won India the 2011 World Cup. In all, Dhoni shellacked eight sixes and a four during his unbeaten 63 off 19 balls. Suresh Raina dazzled with the bat too on, hitting 84 off 57 balls. Darren Sammy tried to match Super Kings’ big hitting in a chase of 203 with his 50 off 25 balls, but Dwayne Bravo and Mohit Sharma closed out a 12-run win with their variations.