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  5. IPL Time Travel Part 2: When Chennai's Thala Returned

IPL Time Travel Part 2: When Chennai's Thala Returned

From Shane Watson to Dwayne Bravo, Kedar Jadhav to Ambati Rayudu, CSK had a man for every occasion.

Kartik Mehindru Written by: Kartik Mehindru New Delhi Updated on: April 25, 2022 16:39 IST
MS Dhoni's CSK made a comeback in the 2018 edition of the IPL after a gap of two years
Image Source : IPL

MS Dhoni's CSK made a comeback in the 2018 edition of the IPL after a gap of two years 

Sports is all about comebacks. Beating the odds, defeating the Goliath, coming out on top when no one expects you to, and getting back up after a knock-out. 

It is in these moments when your back is up against the wall, that the world gets to know the true you. These are the moments when legends are made, and careers are immortalised. 

2018 witnessed one such story. It was the comeback of the Kings. It was the comeback of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings. 

Over the years, CSK has grown into a phenomenon. It is not just another franchise playing in the IPL. If you are in a stadium or watching a CSK match at home, one look at the stands, and you can tell the amount of fan following the franchise enjoys.

So, when the yellow-army returned in the 2018 edition of the IPL, something big was bound to happen.

The comeback was grand, no doubt about that. But what made it even bigger was the fact that nobody even gave them a chance. To begin with, they were labelled as the dad's army. The average age of their team was 33. 

But as they say, experince has no alternative. Well, CSK proved it. From Shane Watson to Dwayne Bravo, Kedar Jadhav to Ambati Rayudu, CSK had a man for every occasion. 

But the biggest positive was the way Mahendra Singh Dhoni performed. It seemed like he was in the form of his life. He was so good in 2018 that the fans started calling him Dhoni 2.0. He ammassed 455 runs in 16 matches with a strike-rate of 150.66. 

It all started with a thriller against arch-rivals Mumbai Indians. Rohit's team batted first and put 165 on board. CSK had a poor start. Chasing 166, they were all but out of the game at 118/8.

Then came the 'Champion'. Dwayne Bravo came in, scored 68 off 30 deliveries, and turned the match on its head. Bravo got out on the last ball of penultimate over. Kedar Jadhav, who walked out due to a hamstring injury, returned to face Mustafizur in the last over. However, there was one catch, he couldn't run. 

Seven runs were required of the last six balls. The first three balls went for nothing. The equation read - 7 runs | 3 balls.

And then, the magic happened. Jadhav went down on one knee and scooped Fizz for a six. Imran Tahir at the other end threw off his bat and ran to hug Kedar Jadhav. The game wasn't over, but the emotions were so high that Tahir couldn't care any less.  

The next ball, Jadhav cleared his front leg, hammered the ball to covers, and won CSK their first game of the season. It was a hiest. Mumbai Indians were robbed of a victory. It was a magical win for CSK and a sign of things to come. 

From there on, it was all CSK. They stormed into the finals after defeating Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Qualifier 1, a team they would eventually meet in the finals. 

Then came the D-day.  May 27, 2018, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. It was two years in the making. 

India Tv - CSK fans cheering for the team during the final vs SRH

Image Source : IPL

CSK fans cheering for the team during the final vs SRH

CSK won the toss and opted to bowl first. Led by Kane Williamson's 47 and Yusuf Pathan's quick-fire 45, SRH finshed with 178. 

Half way through the match, no one would have expected what was about to unfold. SRH had no idea what was about to hit them. Even after the CSK chase started, SRH were doing just fine. Watson did not get off the mark for 10 balls. They had CSK down at 20/1 after 5 overs. 

Then came the storm. It had to be Watson. Who can forget the iconic image of Watson's bloody knee as he smashed the ball through covers. Everbody who saw that match knew it was more than just a final for Watson. It was about loyalty. It was about repaying the faith. It was about winning the title for a team that had backed him to the moon. 

In an innings that killed the chase, Watson slammed 117 not-out to take his team to victory. 

India Tv - Watson was adjudged as the man of the match in the final vs SRH

Image Source : IPL

Watson was adjudged as the man of the match in the final vs SRH

The final belonged to CSK. It belonged to Watson. It belonged to each and every fan who waited for two years to see their team back on the field. 

Dhoni lifted the trophy. Chennai's Thala was back, and so were the Kings.