The Indian Premier League (IPL) has witnessed several rivalries over the years, but none quite as intense as the one between the Mumbai Indians (MI) and the Chennai Super Kings (CSK). These two franchises have not only dominated the league but have also developed a passionate and dedicated fan base.
Both MI and CSK have won five IPL titles each, making them the joint-holders of the record for most titles in the tournament’s history. The teams are led by two of India’s finest cricketers, MS Dhoni for CSK and Rohit Sharma for MI.
Ambati Rayudu, a former player for both MI and CSK, has observed a distinct difference between the fanbases of the two franchises. He believes that MI fans are more team-oriented, supporting the entire team rather than individual players. In contrast, he observes that CSK fans are more devoted to Dhoni, prioritizing his presence over the team itself.
“As a player I would say, they support Mumbai Indians more than one player or X player or Y player. They are always for Mumbai Indians. Chennai Super Kings is slightly different. Chennai are: Dhoni’s fans first and then CSK. If Mahi bhai is not there, don’t think the stadium would be half full. They are all Mahi bhai fans,” Ambati Rayudu remarked on The Ranveer Show.
MS Dhoni, affectionately known as ‘Thala’ by his ardent CSK supporters, remains a massive draw despite retiring from international cricket four years ago. Widely regarded as one of India’s most successful captains, Dhoni continues to lead CSK in the IPL and steered them to a record-equalling fifth IPL title earlier this year.
Since the IPL’s inception in 2008, CSK has been led by Dhoni, except for two seasons when they were suspended and for a brief period in 2022 when all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja took over as captain.
Speculations were rife that the 2023 IPL would be Dhoni’s final season, but the legendary captain is expected to continue playing for CSK in 2024 after being retained by the franchise ahead of the upcoming auction.
The rivalry between MI and CSK extends beyond the cricket field, with their fan bases engaging in passionate debates and social media banter. This rivalry has undoubtedly added to the excitement and spectacle of the IPL, making it one of the most captivating leagues in the world of cricket.