The Chennai Super Kings lifted their third Indian Premier League trophy completing their comeback after a two-year suspension.
A large part of their win hinged on a superb century from Shane Watson in the final. The former Australian opener’s score is emblematic of their core batting unit which had its best season ever scoring 77% of the teams runs this year.
Far and way the oldest batting line-up in the IPL, Chennai’s top six run scorers on average are 34 years old. They’re the only team where not one in their top six is below 30.
And the experience seemed to count for something. The batting line-up of Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina scored a mammoth 2,057 runs, the highest ever for Chennai’s top four batsmen in the IPL.
What’s astonishing about Chennai’s 2018 season is all four players scored 400 runs or more over the course of the season, a first for their franchise. Rivalling this year’s blitzkrieg is their 2013 season. It stands out because of Mike Hussey’s 733 runs, the fourth highest run-haul for a season in IPL history. Mr. Cricket had some assistance that year from Dhoni and Raina, but he was pretty much a one man army.
This season, however, the batting wasn’t built around a single player. Watson and Rayudu had nearly identical seasons averaging 39.4 and 43 respectively. Both scored more than 500 runs, the only two players on the same side to do so this season.
Dhoni and Raina played the roles of a strong support cast again. This was also the Chennai captain’s best season since 2013 and he seems to have found his groove again.
But Dhoni compared to all batsmen remained at the crease and controlled the game. He averaged 75.8 and remained unbeaten nine times out the 15 innings he played.
Statistically, this is the best batting season for Chennai and unlike 2013, this time they lifted the cup. CSK is clearly a team that likes to think differently and have a firm idea of how they want to go about things.
Having senior players capable of understanding the requirements of the formats went a long way towards Chennai winning the title. They really couldn’t have asked for a better comeback into the IPL fold.