Chennai Super Kings (CSK) defeated Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by 27 runs in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 final to clinch their fourth crown. CSK posted an impressive 192 for 3 batting first in the final after which they restricted KKR to 165 for 9. Chennai were consistent right through the tournament. They finished second in the league table, next to Delhi Capitals (DC). However, once they reached the playoffs, they were unstoppable. They brushed aside the DC challenge in Qualifier 1 before thumping KKR in the final. Here are five reasons why CSK lifted the IPL 2021 title.
Stellar opening pair: Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis were one of the chief factors why CSK lifted the IPL 2021 crown. The duo ended up as the Top 2 run-getters in the edition, which says a lot about how prolific they were. While Gaikwad walked away with the Orange Cap for amassing 635 runs at a strike rate of 136.26, Du Plessis blasted 633 runs at a strike rate of 138.20. Together, the duo put most opponents to the sword and gave the team a number of solid starts, laying the foundation for CSK’s victory.
Lord Thakur: There is something about Shardul Thakur that is so endearing. Every time the team needs him, he finds a way to deliver. He did it during the Test series in England and repeated the same for CSK in IPL 2021 as well. Thakur ended the tournament with brilliant numbers, claiming 21 wickets in 16 matches at a strike rate of 17.09. His golden arm worked his magic right through the tournament, including the final in which he claimed three wickets to scuttle KKR’s hopes. A place in the T20 World Cup for Thakur is richly deserved and well-earned.
Moeen Ali and Robin Uthappa’s valuable contributions: The No. 3 spot is crucial for any side in the T20 format as well. CSK played a masterstroke by sending Moeen Ali into bat at the one-down position. The move worked brilliantly as the England all-rounder came in, threw his bat around and got some crucial runs for the franchise. The left-hander slammed 357 runs at a strike rate of 137.30. After he lost his way, he was moved down to No. 4. However, he raised his game in the final with a fine cameo. As for Robin Uthappa, he played only a couple of good knocks, but they came in the Qualifier and the final. His blazing 63 set up the chase against DC while his 15-ball 31 gave CSK’s innings a lift against KKR.
Backing their players: CSK had a few worries at the start of the tournament. Gaikwad did not begin well and there were question marks over his place in the playing XI. However, CSK backed him and the rest is history. Similarly, a lot of pundits questioned Dwayne Bravo’s selection over Sam Curran but the ‘Champion’ bowler answered his critics in style. Josh Hazlewood too went for a few runs in a couple of games but came good when it matters. Even in the case of Uthappa, he was retained despite early failures and delivered the goods.
The Dhoni influence: A CSK win without MS Dhoni’s mention is incomplete, isn’t it? On paper, the only contribution of Dhoni with the bat was the unbeaten 18 off 6 that he scored against DC in the Qualifier. But those runs were worth a lot more as it put CSK in the final. Throughout the campaign, Thala was a calm, assured presence behind the wickets, even after he put down the catch of Venkatesh Iyer in the final. The Dhoni impact cannot be explained in words. It is a feeling and an emotion only the CSK players can experience now that the legend is no longer part of international cricket. Against all odds, Captain Cool was very much in business during IPL 2021.