CSK vs MI: Retracing the rivalry

The CSK-MI rivalry is as passionate as it is intense. While the Mumbai Indians can boast of a superior head-to-head, CSK have managed to get the better of them in more than one important occasion. (PTI File Photo)

The 2019 Vivo IPL had quite a finale. When Lasith Malinga walked up to bowl the final over of the match, the Chennai Super Kings was nothing short of confidence. With Malinga dispatched for 20 runs in his previous over, one might have expected the Men in Yellow to lift this year’s IPL trophy. But as history suggests, experience counts and Lasith Malinga surely had the last laugh when he trapped Shardul Thakur within his crease to clinch the fourth title for the Mumbai Indians. 

Looking back at the first season of the IPL -- in 2008 -- it's hard to quite understand how things panned out for the teams in the IPL. Champions Rajasthan Royals have never made it to an IPL final since. Kings XI Punjab had an extraordinary season in 2014, thanks to the heroics of Glenn Maxwell and David Miller, but was sloppy in pretty much every other season. And the concluding season is the first good one that the Delhi Capitals (formerly known as Delhi Daredevils) have had following a catastrophic run for six years.

Runners up Chennai Super Kings have had three titles since that Sohail Tanvir magic that cost them their first title back in 2008. They also made it to the playoffs in every season they participated in. With arguably the largest fanbase in the country (the sea of yellow in the stands vouches for that), the Chennai Super Kings while making it to the most number of finals don't boast the most number of titles. All of this tainted by a two-year suspension following a spot-fixing scandal involving ‘team principal’ Gurunath Meiyappan. 

Mumbai Indians -- the team that finished fifth in the first season of the IPL-- saw their first glimmer of hope in 2010. They made it to the finals wherein they faced the Chennai Super Kings at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai. They, however, crumpled on the big occasion paving the way for the men in yellow to lift their first IPL trophy after three years of toiling. 

It was a night of utter disappointment for the Mumbai Indians. But it was also the first instance in which they made a name for themselves in the IPL. There has been no looking back for them ever since that first final. Since then, the Mumbai Indians moved permanently to the Wankhede Stadium, made it to seven playoffs and won four titles in the process. 

The CSK-MI rivalry is as passionate as it is intense. While the Mumbai Indians can boast of a superior head-to-head, CSK has managed to get the better of them in more than one important occasion. 

The tale of their rivalry probably dates back to 2010 IPL final. It was an intense season and the final was contested between table toppers Mumbai Indians and the team that scraped through to the semi-final with 14 points. The final, however, did not possess the edge that great cricket matches do. While Suresh Raina propelled the Super Kings to a defendable 168, the Mumbai Indians plummeted to their defeat as they lost the game by 22 runs. Mumbai might have lost the match but there began the beautiful rivalry between the Chennai Super Kings and the Mumbai Indians. 

CSK did not face Mumbai in the 2011 IPL playoffs. 

They surged ahead through the IPL demolishing Royal Challengers Bangalore by 58 runs after posting a mammoth 205 on the board. CSK could have recorded a hattrick of titles in 2012 but they failed to defend their title as they were beaten by the Kolkata Knight Riders in the final, thanks to a Manvinder Bisla onslaught. They did beat the Mumbai Indians in the eliminator by a comfortable 38-run-margin though. 

2013 was the year that the Mumbai Indians finally rose to the occasion. They finished second in the league stage behind CSK and eventually played them in the qualifier. Mike Hussey and Suresh Raina turned the heat on Mumbai as the Feroz Shah Kotla played home to one of the finest batting displays of the season. 

Mumbai fought their way back to face CSK in the final by defeating Rajasthan Royals in the second qualifier. Things didn’t look all that rosy for CSK this time around though. While they restricted Mumbai to a subpar score of 148, Malinga and Mitchell Johnson carved through the CSK batting lineup and set up their first ever IPL victory. 

2014 witnessed another CSK-MI game in the playoffs, this time in the eliminator. While CSK beat Mumbai in the eliminator, Suresh Raina’s 25 ball 87 couldn’t save the Lions from Virender Sehwag’s carnage in the second qualifier. 

CSK and Mumbai met in the IPL final for the third time in 2015 and once again, CSK fell short. CSK booked their finals berth after beating Mumbai in the first qualifier and lost the finals against Mumbai. Mumbai and Chennai were now level for IPLs won. 

And while CSK might have hoped to get their revenge on Mumbai the following season, they along with the Rajasthan Royals were suspended by the BCCI for two years. The players were split up and picked up by different teams in the action. Mumbai did capitalise on the opportunity and took the lead over CSK in a nail-biting encounter in the 2017 IPL final against the Rising Pune Supergiant. 

And when CSK did make a comeback in 2018, they made sure that it was one people would remember. An ageing squad with Mahi past his prime was the preliminary verdict. The same Mahi found his feet as the season progressed and led the Super Kings to a stunning IPL victory. 

Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings are arguably the biggest teams in the IPL. They have the most trophies, the largest fan base and a core of players who identify with their respective franchises. And those are the very reasons why their rivalry will persist in the years to come.

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