Shane Watson Recalls How an Emotional MS Dhoni Fired CSK to Third Title
MS Dhoni plays a shot in the IPL. (AFP)
When the CSK gathered for the first time after returning from the ban, Dhoni addressed the squad members and his words were full of emotion and passion, Watson recalled
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been a dasher in front of the stumps and immaculate behind them. However, there is a third angle to his cricket persona. Dhoni has been an astute captain both for India and the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), and continues to motivate many with his actions and words.
A tale of Dhoni’s inspiring leadership was shared by his former CSK teammate Shane Watson during a chat with another former CSK man Harbhajan Singh. Watson and Harbhajan have come together as part of the Legends Cricket League (LLC) Masters, a T20 tournament for retired cricketers being held in Doha between March 10 and March 20. Although Watson and Harbhajan are part of rival teams in the LLC Masters, the camaraderie is still intact between the two former CSK teammates and the two chatted about the time the yellow brigade won the IPL for the third time in 2018 immediately after returning from a two-year ban.
When the CSK gathered for the first time in 2018 after returning from the ban, Dhoni addressed the squad members and his words were full of emotion and passion, Watson recalled.
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“There was one moment when MS Dhoni got up and spoke at the first team function that we had. You could see how much it meant to him, he got emotional around how much it meant for him to CSK to get back together,” The Hindustan Times quoted Watson as saying.
Dhoni’s words fired the players up. “Then the first game against MI (Mumbai Indians), Dwayne Bravo pulled the rabbit out of the hat, got us home out of nowhere. The belief of immediate. We got the team, we got the players, and we had good performances,” the Australian allrounder remembered.
Watson added that Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming created a relaxed environment that allowed the team members to go out there and enjoy themselves, without worrying unduly about the results. Watson said that CSK that year had a “great bunch of players, with families there as well” and emphasised that it was a “special time” for him.
There was a lot of talk about the average age of the CSK side in 2018. Dhoni himself was 35 years old at that time and the squad had several other above-30 cricketers like Watson, Dwayne Bravo, Imran Tahir, and Harbhajan. The team, in fact, was derisively termed ‘Dad’s Army’. The Dhoni-led side, however, silenced the naysayers as they defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad by eight wickets in Mumbai to clinch their third title with Watson playing a match-winning knock of 117 not out. He had a great outing in the IPL that year, scoring 555 runs at an average of 154.59 and taking six wickets.
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Dhoni is back as CSK captain after briefly giving up captaincy last year. CSK would be opening their 2023 campaign against defending champions Gujarat Titans on the opening day of the tournament. They would be looking to make the 2023 edition, which could well be Dhoni’s last in CSK colours, a memorable one.
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