Why Dhoni’s CSK is a Lot Like Modi’s BJP


Why Dhoni’s CSK is a Lot Like Modi’s BJP

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Chennai Super Kings have been dominating the IPL just like the BJP has, until recently, been dominating state elections. And much like India’s political scenario, the cricket contest too, has now become a case of CSK vs the rest.

CSK is a T20 winning machine, with two IPL titles and two CLT20 titles. CSK knows how to go far in the IPL, the same way the BJP knows how to win elections. The Indian Premier League is not that different from politics – there’s a lot of money involved, people change teams and loyalties all the time, and a lot of it is fixed.

When the IPL auction took place and teams were being assembled, everyone mocked the CSK management. “It’s an old team,” many said. They were probably right. The jibes kept coming: The only time that many 30-year-olds get together these days is during a PhD class in JNU. The team had so many older players that their home ground should be a hospital. There were so many “seniority” jokes being cracked that Dhoni and Co would reach the pension age by the time they finished reading all of them.

It’s time we understand that despite bad games (and Karnataka elections) people like Modi and Dhoni almost never fail to make a comeback.

No one gave CSK a chance, but we forget that youth is not all that it’s cracked up to be. After all Rahul Gandhi and Chetan Bhagat pass off as “youth leaders” in our country.

The common belief is that you need young blood to win titles like the IPL. And yet, the youngest team, the Delhi Daredevils, hit rock bottom once again. Even in the political sphere, we have India’s eternal youth leader (at the age of 47) Rahul Gandhi, struggling against the wisdom and experience of a wily old fox in the form of Narendra Modi. One should argue then, that winning in elections or cricket is not about younger players – it’s about mature leaders.

At the heart of the CSK IPL winning machinery, is the calm and unassuming presence of MS Dhoni. He’s been there, seen it all, and won it all. He has led his team well in low-scoring games as well as on pitches that could pass off as cement roads. CSK can probably win a game of cricket on Mount Everest or in space without gravity.

And yet a few quiet games and the nation explodes, raising questions about Dhoni’s retirement. The critics start baying for blood. It’s the political equivalent of the liberal media asking “Is the Modi wave over?” – a question based more on hope than actual reality.

It’s time we understand that despite bad games (and Karnataka elections) people like Modi and Dhoni almost never fail to make a comeback. Just when you think they’re down, they bounce back with a string of impressive performances and cheeky speeches.

The fact is that, just like the BJP, CSK has a far from perfect team. It has leaders who issue mindless statements and roll out questionable policies and CSK has Jadeja. (I’m not clear whether he’s as a batsman, bowler, or fielder). Faf du Plessis has only been part of the team during the later stages of the tournament. Rayudu, having phenomenal success as an opener all season, batted lower down in the play-off. And yet, it all came together when it mattered the most.

The thing that defines both the BJP and CSK is that when the time comes, everyone rises to the occasion. That’s what great teams do. No matter what the conditions, CSK is quick to adapt. In the middle of the tournament, their home ground was shifted from Chennai to Pune. But this change didn’t deter their success. Just like BJP often touted as a “Hindi party” does not let language be a barrier in their electoral success. The nation loves to chant “Dhoni, Dhoni” just the way it chants “Modi, Modi”.

Kings XI captain Ashwin boasted about being unpredictable, but he’s had as much success as India’s MET department. It’s the balanced Chennai Super Kings with an air of unpredictability who’ve come a long way.  

It’s the end of the IPL season and CSK has made it to another final. And looking back, it all seems inevitable. If CSK were a person, it would be that guy who invested in Bitcoins, made millions out of it, and made an exit at the right time. Indeed a Whistle Podu move.