IPL 2023: Nehra to Rahane – Discarded List of Players Who Flourished Under MS Dhoni at CSK

Recently, the 41-year-old became the only captain in the 16-year history of the IPL to captain a single team in 200 matches. The longevity and the consistency of the cricketer is insane. There was one Sachin Tendulkar who played 200 Tests, there is a 40-year-old pacer Anderson approaching 700 Test wickets.

Then there is just one MS Dhoni who captained CSK in the first 16 years of their existence! “Mahi is different. He is a different captain. There hasn’t been a captain like him and there will never be one like him in the future,” Sunil Gavaskar recently said on Star Sports.

Leading a team of superstars is one thing but turning a team full of ordinary players into a champion side is an art Dhoni mastered and owns like nobody else in the game. In the article, let’s have a look at a few players who revamped their careers under MS Dhoni.

Ajinkya Rahane: Once the captain of Rajasthan Royals (RR), Ajinkya Rahane was in search of a new home ahead of the IPL 2023. The last four seasons had seen him go through a horrendous run across three franchises. In 2020, the right-hander scored 113 runs at an average of 14.12.

The following season, he played two matches and scored eight runs. The Mumbai batter scored 133 runs in seven matches at an average of 19 before getting just three matches to play for KKR in the last season.

CSK has grabbed the services of Rahane at his base price of Rs 50 lakh this season, and the former India vice-captain has flourished massively. In his debut match for CSK, he slammed a 19-ball fifty. The next two matches have seen him score 31 off 19 against Rajasthan Royals (RR) and 37 off 20 versus Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).

Shivam Dube: After two ordinary seasons with RCB in 2019 and 2020, Shivam Dube spent a year at Rajasthan Royals where he scored 230 runs at a strike rate of 119.17. Dhoni has turned Dube into one of the best players in the middle-over of the IPL.

In IPL 2022, the 29-year-old scored 289 runs at a strike rate of 156.22. In the ongoing season, the player has scored 134 runs at a strike rate of 139.58 from five matches. In the last match against RCB, he walked in at four and smashed 52 off just 27 to propel CSK to 226/6 in 20 overs. He smashes two fours and five sixes.

Tushar Deshpande: The Mumbai bowlers started off his IPL career with Delhi Capitals (DC) where he played five matches and picked three wickets at an average of 64 and a strike rate of 11.29. He was picked at his base price of Rs 20 lakh in IPL 2022.

In the first season, he played just two matches. The ongoing season is now turning out to be the breakout season for the 27-year-old. With a few injuries in the CSK camp, Deshpande is being raised by Dhoni as CSK’s frontline bowler. The result is there to be seen.

The pacer has so far picked 10 wickets from the first five matches at an average of 20.90. His strike rate is an excellent 11.

Shane Watson: One Rajasthan Royals was banned after IPL 2015, Shane Watson joined RCB in 2016 becoming the costliest Australian player but his performance dipped. He scored 179 runs in 16 matches at an average of 13.76. The following season, he scored 71 runs in eight matches at an average of 11.83.

However, come 2018, the all-rounder returned to his brutal best after joining CSK. He scored 555 runs at an average just under 40 as CSK lifted their third IPL trophy. In the following two seasons as well, he scored 398 and 299 runs respectively.

Robin Uthappa: After a forgettable 2020 season with Rajasthan in which he scored 196 runs at an average of 16.33 and a strike rate of 119.51 in 12 matches, Uthappa moved to CSK for his final lap of stupendous IPL career.

He played four matches in IPL 2021 and scored 115 runs at an average of 28.75 and a strike rate of 136.90. In his final season, the right-hander scored 230 runs in 12 matches at a strike rate of 134.50.

Ambati Rayudu: The very talented batter had a very controversial international career. His temperamental issue made him part of multiple controversies. The mercurial cricketer even announced his retirement in 2019 before making a u-turn.

Rayudu always needed a franchise like CSK and a captain like Dhoni to tap his potential and prolong his career. The same has happened since he joined the yellow Army. He scored 602 runs for them in the 2018 season and has scored over 250 runs in each of the following seasons till now.

Despite not playing for Indian and regular domestic cricket, he has maintained his touch under the leadership of Dhoni.

Ashish Nehra: The head coach of Gujarat Titans (GT), Ashish Nehra played for a lot of franchises but his best came while representing CSK in IPL 2015. He picked 22 wickets in the season at an average of 20.40 and an economy rate of 7.24.

He played eight seasons in the IPL but picked more than 12 wickets only once. He played for CSK in 2014 as well, taking eight wickets in four matches at an average of 17.75.

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