Millennium Post
Sports

Dad's Army has proved that experience always prevails

New Delhi: It was destiny that Chennai Super Kings had to be on seventh heaven after winning their seventh final in the history of Indian Premier League.
Out of the seven finals, two of their title triumphs came in 2010 and 2011, but after that they were in four finals between 2012 and 2015, but an unlikely jinx denied the chance for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to land his hands on the trophy.
On Sunday night, the so-called jinx was broken by the yellow brigade under the stewardship of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
On a personal front, it was Dhoni's eighth final, having been part of Rising Pune Supergiants, who lost the 2017 final to Mumbai Indians.
The third title triumph puts CSK on par with Mumbai Indians as the teams who have won maximum times.
But for the Team Yellovee, it is more than that. Out on suspension for two years, Dhoni was emotional and wanted to prove that they are not champions due to so-called 'fixing'.
The two year suspension had hurt the skipper and he vented out the emotions at the start of the season.
Well, it was the experience that prevailed in the final analysis. If a 37-year-old Shane Watson can shatter the dreams of Sunrisers Hyderabad on his own, then the underlining factor is, of course, experience.
Dhoni time and again at post-match interviews said that he knows that team is full of aged players and still has the experience to counter any opposition.
Called the 'Dad's Army' the young boys of Delhi did upstage them in one of the league matches, but that was only one-off day for the experienced yellow brigade in the entire tournament.
The hallmark of CSK's success was also that every individual in the franchise, be it players, coaching staff or administrative members, worked over time to keep the outfit like a well-oiled machine.
Vintage hero
Another important factor has been the resurgence of skipper Dhoni. In recent times, Dhoni has been hated to the core and he used this season of the IPL to silence all of them.
On the other hand there is no doubting his leadership qualities, which was on display one again this IPL season. Now you know why Virat Kohli looks up to Dhoni at crucial stages.
Dhoni bringing back to life his vintage days and showing to the world that he is still a finisher of repute, has been another highlight pf the season.
IPL 2018 turned out to be the best for him as a player and as a captain as well. With his performance he also signalled to the Indian think-tank that the higher he bats in a batting order, the best flows from his willow.
As CSK continues to steal the headlines, we indeed have to throw some light on the others, who made a mark this season.
The other stars
Looking beyond, there were few achievers or record breakers, who brightened up the exciting season.
Lokesh Rahul was the first to set IPL 2018 on fire with his fastest-ever IPL fifty, coming up in just 14 balls. The fastest until then was a 15-ball 50 hit by Yusuf Pathan and Sunil Narine.
Rahul's Kings XI Punjab teammate Mujeeb Ur Rahman also became the youngest wicket taker of the IPL. At 17 years, Afghanistan spinner became the youngest player to play in IPL and also has been recorded in the books as the youngest wicket-taker. His first wicket was Colin Munro of Delhi Daredevils.
Meanwhile, Delhi Daredevils might have been the team which earned the wooden spoon, but there was one player who stole many hearts.
Named the best emerging player and the stylish player, Rishabh Pant also was among the record breakers. His unbeaten 128 off 63 balls turned out to be the highest score by an Indian player in IPL. He broke Murali Vijay's 127 hit some years ago.
If there was one player who drove the Indian cricket fans crazy then it was the 19-year Afghanistan spin wizard Rashid Khan. With 21 wickets he was the best bowler of Sunrisers Hyderabad and during the course of the League, he also became the youngest cricketer to have played 100 T20s.
Apart from these, there were more, like, Chris Gayle continuing to lead the century makers list with one century this season and CSK's Dhoni breaking Gautam Gambhir's record of highest scoring captain. Ambati Rayudu also needs a mention here for consistency.
There were some firsts too, with another 17-year-old Sandeep Lamichhane becoming the first Nepal cricketer to play IPL.
To sum up, 2018 was definitely the most exciting IPL season and it augurs well for the future. Now, we know why IPL is the most popular league around the globe.

(The author is the former Sports Editor of Times of Oman and a freelance writer.)
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