Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chennai Super Kings’ Ring of Honor

As we step into IPL 4, we look back at some of our class performers who have since retired or moved out of the team. They brought leadership and contributed to the success of the team. They help CSK win IPL and Champions League events. They brought success, joy and pride to the team and its fans. Some took their contribution off the field and reached out to the fans and the Chennai city. The nominees for this year's Chennai Super Kings Ring of Honor include:

  1. Mathew Hayden: Haydo had 2 spectacular seasons with CSK and was a leading scorer. He was an integral part of the team's IPL3 and Champions League successes. He entertained the crowds with his Aussie never-say-die spirit and intimidating presence. He opted out of the recent auction leading to IPL 4 and retired graciously. He calls Chennai as his second home and is part of the city's long term plans as the Director of the planned Cricket Academy
  2. Muthiah Muralidharan: The crowd favorite, Murali was the leading spinner for CSK in their first 3 IPLs. He brought the intensity that made him the best spinner in the world to help CSK win big. He mentored the likes of Ashwin and Jakati to become good performers. Kochi outbid Chennai with $1.1 Mn. for Murali in IPL 4 but Chennai will never forget its Mapillai and his contributions
  3. Makaya Ntini: Ntini was the Energizer Bunny who brought cheer to the team in the dressing room. He performed well whenever given the opportunity and was part of the team that was consistently successful in all 3 IPL seasons

The process to select includes:

Step 1: Send your votes by E-mail to by March 15, 2011

Step 2: Experts will analyze the merits of the Candidates

Step 3: Merit (Expert Votes) and Popularity (Fan Votes) will be accounted for in determining the players who will enter in to CSK's Ring of Honor

Step 4: Results will be published in the site on the day of IPL 4 inauguration

Your votes do matter. Send it right away to

IPL 4: Stars We Miss!!!

IPL 4 offers the international cricket lovers a galaxy of Super Stars from almost every cricket playing nation. Players too relish this opportunity as the emerging ones brush shoulders with the Stars. However, we are poorer by the absence of some of the international players who are not there due to non selection (in Auction – Graeme Swann, Chris Gayle), non participation (Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, etc.), non available (England and to an extent West Indies players) or non eligible (players from Pakistan). The biggest surprise in the auction was the non selection of Chris Gayle, arguably the best T20 opening batsman. Here is a list of some of the stars missing in action

  1. Super Stars
    1. Chris Gayle, WI
    2. Abdul Razzaq, PAK
    3. Misbah Ul Haq, PAK
    4. Younis Khan, PAK
    5. Shahid Afridi, PAK
    6. Shoaib Akthar, PAK
    7. Ricky Ponting, AUS
  2. Stars
    1. Andrew Strauss, ENG
    2. Michael Clarke, AUS
    3. Hashim Amla, SA
    4. Graeme Smith, SA
    5. Shivanarayan Chanderpaul, WI
    6. Ramnesh Sarwan, WI
  3. Emerging Stars
    1. Graeme Swann, ENG
    2. James Anderson, ENG
    3. Ajantha Mendis, SL
    4. Darren Sammy, WI
    5. Adrian Bharath, WI
    6. Darren Bravo, WI
    7. Umar Gul, PAK

Are you aware of others, especially the emerging ones? Please share your thoughts

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CSK Opening Batsmen: Position Analysis

Chennai Super Kings have 3 specialists (probably 4, if Abhinav Mukund is signed) for the 2 opening batsmen positions. Opening batsmen are crucial to launch a T20 innings aggressively, often against the best opposition bowlers. Their job is to build a quick 60 to 70 run partnership in the first 7 - 8 overs. Critical success factors include, quick hand eye coordination, range of strokes all around the wicket – especially over the fielders (given the first power play) and good hand and shoulder strength to find the ropes. Here is an analysis of the options CSK has:

  1. Murali Vijay: An aggressive opening batsman, Vijay is known for his big hundreds and booming sixes. He bloomed in IPL 3, where he was a Top 10 batsman and was the highest scorer in Champions League 2010. He has an average in the upper 40s and a 100+ strike rate. His recent bad patch in South Africa is definitely a concern but coming back to his favorite Indian grounds should do his confidence a world of good. He is not in the World Cup squad, with India loaded with 3 fantastic openers (Sehwag, Tendulkar and Gambhir). Vijay is also a good fielder especially in taking catches in the deep. Expect him to be a Top 10 batsman once again in IPL 4
  2. Abhinav Mukund: There have been conflicting reports of him being signed and not signed in various news sources. Abhinav is a solid opener with an average of 50+ in domestic circuit. He was not in the scheme of things in the previous IPLs as Murali Vijay and Mathew Hayden filled the opening slots. He will be the first choice to partner with Murali Vijay, given the greater need for Foreigners in Middle Order, Fast Bowling and All Rounder positions. Expect him to be sturdy and score at an average of 30 – 40 runs at a 90+ strike rate
  3. Srikkanth Aniruddha: Aniruddha is a specialist opener who was fitted into a middle order slot in IPL 3. He is a decent opener who can fill in if Abhinav is not signed. Expect him to score 20 to 30 runs on average, per game at 90+ strike rate
  4. Mike Hussey: Mike is a first down batsman who can also fit in the opener slot, if required. Mr. Cricket, as he is called, is a purist who can build solid partnerships in the top order at a healthy strike rate. He is down with a hamstring injury and is not in the Australia World Cup squad. Given the weakness in the middle order, he may be more needed as a first down batsman

Compared to IPL 3, CSK has weakened in the opener positions. Even though Mathew Hayden was not highly successful he brought a dominating aura that put opposition teams on the back foot from the first over. He also provided leadership and guided his batting partners through the innings. His loss will certainly hurt CSK

In IPL 4, Murali Vijay and Abhinav Mukund are the first choice for Opening with Mike Hussey moved to first down to augment the middle order. Srikkanth Aniruddha is the first alternate for Abhinav Mukund, if he is not signed or if any of the openers are injured

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Tale of the Yellow Jersey

Chennai Super Kings went with the golden yellow color for their logo (Lion, King of the Jungle) and their Jersey. Blue and Red are popular sports colors but too much of them is boring. Golden yellow really stands out and is often the color of Champions. To best appreciate this phenomenon, let us look around the sports world for evidences

  1. Brazilian National team, the most popular team in the history of international Football (soccer), wears Yellow Jersey and has won several FIFA world cups
  2. Australian National Cricket team wears yellow attire and remained a dominant force for more than a decade
  3. Yellow Jersey is given to Stage Leaders in Tour De' France
  4. "Show time" Los Angeles Lakers, the National Basketball Association power house wears Yellow Jersey
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins and Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (American Football) wear prominent golden yellow in their attire. They have won 17 super bowls between them and also 3 of the last 5
  6. Arsenal and Chelsea, two of European Premier League's top 5 soccer teams wear Yellow Jersey in their away games
  7. Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins, two leading teams in National Hockey League wear Yellow Jerseys

A common trait of these champions is the way they play – fearless, entertaining (show time), relentless, skillful, dominating and never say die. Sounds familiar!!! Yes, this is the same trait our own Chennai Super Kings carry and deliver season after season. Go! Chennai super Kings!!!

CSK in the News

The past week had been mixed for CSK players. Dwayne Bravo was spectacular, MS Dhoni, Scott Styris, R Ashwin, Nuwan Kulasekara and Doug Bollinger were adequate, Suresh Raina failed, Fef Du Plessis did not get a chance to play and Mike Hussey getting dropped from the squad

MSD got back to his winning ways by leading India to a 38 run victory in a low scoring, World Cup warm up match against Australia. He scored only 11 runs but had a fantastic effort behind the stumps, stumping 3 Aussies

Ashwin played a significant role in the win with 25 runs and 1 wicket for 47 runs in 10 overs. Suresh Raina carried his bad run with just 12 runs. View CricInfo's Match Report and Score Card for more details

Even as Ricky Ponting called for more sporting pitches for the World Cup, Dhoni defended the Bangalore pitch as a tough one but not a bad one. Captain Cool played down the hype and said pressure isn't pressure anymore but responsibility

Suresh Raina has been identified as a key player in the upcoming World Cup. His liking for the subcontinent conditions and the reasons why he will do well is seen in the CricInfo article Odds on batsmen to deliver in familiar conditions. However, a Times of India Poll conducted last week voted Suresh Raina, by a majority, as the player who won't get a place in India's starting XI. Check the panel of the web page to see the poll

Sydney Morning Herald reported Mike Hussey's disappointment and highlighting of double standard on being left out of the Australian World Cup squad. In their survey, 66% voted yes to the question if this axing is Mr. Cricket's One Day Farewell? According to BBC, his ex-team mate Jason Gillespie accused Hussey of winging over World Cup axing

Dwayne Bravo was spectacular scoring 54 runs (56 balls) and getting 1-40 (8 overs) in Windies' 61 run win over Kenya

Scott Styris gave an all round performance scoring 29 runs (15 balls) and was economical in as 0-26 (6 overs) performance aganist Ireand. New Zealand won the match by 32 runs

Doug Bollinger took 1-29 (6 overs) for Australia in their 38 run loss to India

Nuwan Kulasekara scored 14 runs (8 balls) and opened the bowling for Srilanka going 0-16 (4 overs). Srilanka won by a mammoth 156 runs over Netherlands

Fef Du Plessis did not bat or bowl in South Africa's 8 wicket win over Zimbabwe

Disclaimer: The news and opinions expressed in these web links are not that of this blogger and is the property of the web site owners

All Time Chennai Super Kings Team

Forming an all time team has always been a fan's fantasy world wide and across sports. The yellow brigade is no exception. True! It is only 3 years and it is way too early to discuss. However, with a blazing track record we have established good credentials to come up with our all time XI. The only qualification to be in our All Time team is to be in the CSK team earlier or now

  1. Mathew Hayden, Opening Batsman
  2. Murali Vijay, Opening Batsman
  3. Michael Hussey, Middle Order Batsman
  4. Suresh Raina, Middle Order Batsman
  5. Subramaniam Badrinath, Middle Order Batsman
  6. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Captain and Wicket Keeper
  7. Albie Morkel, All Rounder
  8. Andrew Flintoff, All Rounder
  9. Doug Bollinger, Fast Bowler
  10. Muthiah Muralidharan, Spinner
  11. Ravichandran Ashwin, Spinner

I was really torn for not including Makaya Ntini in the team, who through his performance, leadership and attitude brought fun, flavor and success to the team. The recent success of Dougie ruled Ntini out of the lineup. I would like to have him as a first alternate for Fast Bowler position

Dropping Dwayne Bravo, especially given his great legacy and also providing West Indian presence was a big decision. Albie Morkel deserves a place purely based on his performance and Andrew Flintoff for his flamboyance and crowd pulling capabilities. Moreover Bravo has not played a single game for CSK. I would like to have Bravo as the first alternate for All Rounder position

The team has shaped up to have super stars, illustrious alumni and young and aggressive colts. The team is very well balanced and can take up any team any where

I hope you folks agree with the team. Let me know what you think!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chennai Super Kings: India’s Team? YES!!! - Part 2

Chennai Super Kings is emerging as the front runner to be India's team and here are the Top 10 reasons for this:

  1. Winners: The first trait to become India's team is to win and to win consistently. Chennai Super Kings are the current IPL Champions and Champions League winners. They were IPL finalist and semi finalist in first 2 seasons and qualified for Champions League in season one. With consistent winning, CSK is establishing a dynasty
  2. Great Team: The only team that has established a clear identity in IPL is Chennai Super Kings. As fearless entertainers, CSK has done all the talking through their performance on the field and impeccable behavior off it. The greatness of a team is in growing from within and the success of Murali Vijay, R Ashwin and Badrinath is ample proof. Leadership from Captain MSD, Murali and Hayden has created a wonderful atmosphere in the dressing room and guided the team to success on the field. About 11 of their ex-players have been retained or brought back through Auction and continuity is an essential ingredient to sustained success
  3. Huge Popularity: Chennai Super Kings was Eighth in the list of status trends in India on Facebook - no other IPL teams even made it to Top 10. MSD is arguably the most popular Indian Cricketer (apart from Sachin Tendulkar). Fans love this small town boy's rag to riches story who also happens to be the most successful Captain produced by India. In the first 3 seasons, Suresh Raina, Muthiah Muralidharan, Mathew Hayden, Murali Vijay and Mike Hussey had consistently pleased the crowds with their exploits. Albie Morkel and Doug Bollinger (last year) had set the grounds on fire with stunning performances. The team also has a clean image that has helped grow the likeability factor
  4. Entertainment Quotient: CSK has a number of match winners who are fearless entertainers. It does help that CSK holds the record for the highest and second highest totals ever scored in IPL. The team's come back wins and stunning performances have spiced up proceedings. Sivamani, with his drums, has become a symbol of entertainment for CSK's fans along with the Cheer Leaders. Their team song Whistle Podu has a toe tapping, hand clapping tune and is very popular with their fans
  5. Loyal Fan Base: We, the yellow brigade, are the best fans in the IPL - period!!! J
  6. National / International Appeal: International stars from different states and countries are well represented in Chennai Super Kings. Their entertaining play and winning ways have helped expand their fan base beyond Chennai. Neutral fans look for stars and winners and Chennai Super Kings has both. Even among opponents, Chennai is the most likeable team after their home team, for the fans – a la "Windies of the old" appeal. The common mantra has been let MSD and CSK win against all other teams but mine
  7. Extensive Social Reach: CSK has a fantastic website which is well designed and infotaining. It has instituted an award for best blogging, which is unique. CSK has numerous blogs and is well represented in social media like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, etc. As explained above, CSK was Eighth in the list of status trends on Facebook. CSK has a Junior Cricketers tournament for youngsters in tie-up with Vijay TV
  8. Great Fan Experience: CSK has rolled off a Red Carpet Fans Club at an affordable price and comes with great benefits. Their on field experience has been enhanced by a great team, renovated stadium and entertainment
  9. Ownership and Management: India Cements, CSK's owners, are the only ones in IPL who have prior experience in managing a first class Cricket team. Team President VB Chandrasekhar and the Coaching team bring a high level of professionalism as reflected in the kind of team members they select, the way players carry themselves on and off the field and the winning tradition they have set
  10. Best Brand Value: Having done all the right things, the right way - each time and every time, CSK has built the best brand value in IPL. They have also become profitable early. They have a growing sponsors base that will only grow exponentially after their recent successes in IPL and Champions League

I am sure you have many more ideas, thoughts, reasons and objections. Please feel free to share them

Chennai Super Kings: India’s Team? – Part 1

Manchester United and Arsenal in Football (Soccer), Dallas Cowboys in American Football, New York Yankees in Baseball and Los Angeles Lakers in Basketball are examples of sports teams that have national and international following. Built over years and generations of fan loyalty, an ever expanding fan base, a winning history, famous players, professional management and visionary owners these franchises go beyond their local fans to be loved and revered worldwide. This has helped them become Most Valuable Franchises, build iconic brands and are highly profitable. Dallas Cowboys is valued at $1.5 Billion by Forbes, making it the most valuable one in National Football League, not because they have been winning recently but because of the brand they have built over years

Every IPL franchise would like to become India's team. Pune Warriors and Kochi franchises are new and will take another few years to come into these discussions

  • Why not Mumbai Indians?
    • Of Course: They have an icon in Sachin Tendulkar and entertainers like Turbantor, Keith Pollard and Lasith Malinga
    • No Way: After 3 years they have entered the Finals of IPL only last year and are yet to win any kind of a championship. Even though they retained 4 players, they let go many of their other players in the Auction. Their choice of a controversial player like Andrew Symonds to go along with Harbajan Singh may not be a smart move
  • Why not Deccan Chargers?
    • Of Course: They have an IPL championship and were a semi finalist last year. They have a huge diaspora in the US
    • No Way: Their first year was a disaster and controversial players like Andrew Symonds, tainted Herschelle Gibbs and Shahid Afridi did their image no good They dismantled the whole team and are assembling a new one this year – lack of continuity hurts brand building
  • Why not Royal Challengers Bangalore?
    • Of Course: They have made it to an IPL Final and Semi Final but have not won any championships. They have a highly affluent fan base in their local town. They had a good outing in the recent IPL auction where they had a few bargain deals
    • No Way: Their first season was forgettable. The hire and fire of Charu Sharma and open criticism of team composition that included iconic players like Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Jacques Kallis by their flamboyant owner have done no good. They too decided to dismantle the whole team barring Virat Kohli. They have very little local players who are well known – they lost Uthappa and Dravid and Anil Kumble retired
  • Why not Rajasthan Royals?
    • Of Course: Their first season was a Cinderella story. Led by the iconic Shane Warne, a team of unknowns from a small town with a small budget, won the inaugural championship
    • No Way: Their last 2 IPL efforts have been forgettable. They are also in odds with BCCI that almost dissolved the franchise. They had a bad outing in the recent IPL Auction with a reduced budget and ended up with only a handful of players
  • Why not Kings XI Punjab?
    • Of Course: Affable Preity Zinta
    • No Way: An average team that filled the bottom half of rankings the past 3 years. They let go all their previous players and mismanaged the recent IPL Auction and will continue with its mediocrity. The owners ran into problems that needed a court intervention to participate in IPL 4
  • Why not Kolkata Knight Riders?
    • Of Course: SRK and till recently Dada. The made a splash in the recent IPL Auction and assembled match winners like Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan
    • No Way: Worst performer of all IPL teams in all 3 editions till date. The team became a joke in 2nd season with Captaincy by committee. No player was retained, meaning none performed well enough
  • Why not Delhi Dare Devils?
    • Of Course: Iconic player Virendra Sewhag
    • No Way: A team that failed to live up to its potential despite having the best opening pair and good bowlers. The team retained only Sehwag who was at odds with the team management in the last but one season. The IPL Auction was forgettable and their mediocrity will continue

Of the above, only Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore have a chance to play catch up with Chennai Super Kings. We will see how Chennai fares against these teams in the next blog and see how they measure up to being India's team

Please share your feedback and comments

Friday, February 11, 2011

CSK in IPL Auction 2011: Grades

CSK's day at the auction showed how lucky they were in retaining 4 players. With Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan and Robin Uthappa going well over $2Mn, the worth of the 4 CSK players should be no less than $8 Mn (MSD: $3 Mn, Suresh Raina: $2.5 Mn, Murali Vijay: $2 Mn and Albie Morkel: $1+ Mn)

CSK was relentless in pursuing their ex-players and brought back Ashwin, Mike Hussey and Badrinath. The loss of Murali and Balaji, despite bidding $1 Mn and $0.475 Mn, will hurt but atleast they gave a sincere attempt

CSK strengthened its allrounders pool with the addition of Dwayne Bravo and Scott Styris and wicket keeping with Wridhaman Saha. Suraj Randhiv and Nuwan Kulasekara add value in strengthening the bowling department and also the Srilankan fan base

Let us evaluate the players we have in each of the positions and hand over Grades. In addition to rating the skill levels of the players, some team attributes like Dressing Room Chemistry and Leadership, Fair Play, Crowd Pulling ability, Bench Strength, Foreign - Indian Player Mix, and Country Representation have also been evaluated

Captaincy: A+
Captain Cool comes with an impressive resume - IPL Championship, Champions League Winners, and Finalist and Semi Finalist in first 2 IPL events. MSD brings a certain calmness, assured confidence and downplayed swagger to the team. He has the respect of experienced and foreign players and the awe of the rest. He works with the coaches pretty well and brings the crowds to the ground and to TV sets

Opening Batsmen (2): B+
In Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay, CSK has a pretty good opening pair. However, Mike is recovering from an hamstring injury and Vijay had a forgettable series in South Africa. Both will not be participating in the World Cup as well and may have some rust at the beginning of the IPL tournament. There are no reserves at this position

Middle Order Batsmen (3): B
Suresh Raina is a champ and a proven finisher. Badrinath is a consistent contributor but not a match winner. George Bailey is an unknown commodity in Indian conditions and against spin. There are no other specialists at this position

Wicket Keeper (1): A
Dhoni is a reliable wicket keeper and a useful lower order batsman. Wridhaman Saha is the young colt who has the potential to fill a middle order slot based on his batting alone

All Rounders (2): A+
Albie Morkel set the grounds on fire in IPL and Champions League with inspired performances. Dwayne Bravo and Scott Styris are two excellent additions and 1 out of these 2 will join Albie in the playing eleven. Bravo's limited availability for the 2011 event and Styris' recent lack of form should be a concern. We saw Francois Du Plessis in the recent SA series and he is expected to be in the reserves

Fast Bowlers (2): A
Doug Bollinger had been a class act in IPL 3 and is the strike bowler for CSK. Ben Hifenhaus is a very good fast bowler who can complement Dougie. Nuwan Kulasekara is a capable reserve. Sudeep Tyagi and Joginder Sharma will be in play in certain Foreigner - Indian mix scenarios

Spin Bowlers (2): B+
Ashwin was the find of IPL3 and is CSK's No. 2 bowler behind Doug. The loss of Murali will definitely hurt the bowling department. Suraj Randhiv is a capable No. 2 spinner. Given the challenges in other positions, the team would prefer Indian players for both positions and addition of Shadab Jakati will be a welcome move

Fielding: B+
CSK has a solid but not a spectacular fielding team. Suresh Raina and Badrinath are excellent fielders, Murali and Mike Hussey have safe pair of hands and the rest of the team are reliable fielders

Bench Strength: B
The team has built a solid bench for all rounders, fast bowlers and wicket keeper. However, reserves for spin bowling is weak and non existent for specialist batsmen (both opening and middle order)

Foreign - Player Mix: A
The foreigners pool is pretty solid and will exclusively man all rounders, fast bowlers and one of the 2 opener positions. Indians will fill in wicket keeper, spinners, middle order batsmen and one of the 2 opening slots. In all the balance looks pretty good

Dressing Room: A
CSK will have the largest number of returning players that will help build on their team chemistry and help induct new members into the team easily. The departure of Murali and Hayden will affect the leadership in the dressing room but Mike Hussey, Scott Styris and Dwayne Bravo will be expected to step up. The dressing room will continue to have a serious outlook with the exception of Suresh Raina. The identity of the team is talk less, do more and barring Andrew Flintoff a couple of years back, the rest of the team members try to remain low profile and let their play talk. The team has a few match winners but several team players

Fair Play: A+
CSK has always scored high on fair play and has won some awards as well. One can expect that with continuity, strong leadership and culture, CSK will continue to play a fair game

Crowd Pullers: A
MSD continues to be the biggest crowd puller apart from SRT and SRK. Doug Bollinger, Ashwin and Albie Morkel have impressed the audience with their performances. All rounders are always popular and the addition of Dwayne Bravo will help approve the team's appeal. The loss of Murali and Hayden is a dampener. However the team has the solid backing of its knowledgeable but conservative Chennai crowd. Being Champions and having non controversial players, the team has a neutral to high level of appeal to non Chennai crowds

Country Representation: B+
Players from Srilanka, Australia and South Africa are well represented in the team. Dwayne Bravo brings the West India flavor. After Flintoff the team lacks representation from England and Bangaldesh does not have representation as well

In summary, the team is shaping up well but need some strong local talent especially in specialized batting (opening and middle order) and spin bowling. The reserves need to be in place to make it a well rounded team

Overall the team gets an A- for its performance at the Player Auction

I hope this is a good start to the Blog and I look forward to your comments and feedback to get the engine cranking full speed. With a couple of months to go for IPL, it is a good time to start building up steam and passion for our team