Dhoni almost ended up playing for this franchise before CSK bought him at the 2008 auction. – Cricadium

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MS Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings are two sides of the same coin. When it comes to the Indian Premier League, the two entities have been inseparable so far, excluding the two seasons Chennai was barred from participating.
Everyone knows that Chennai Super Kings bought Dhoni for USD 1.5 million, making him the most expensive player back then, but only a few know the story behind CSK buying Dhoni. 
Why did Chennai buy Dhoni? 
At the time of the 2008 auction, each franchise had an icon player in mind that it wanted to buy. Mumbai wanted Sachin Tendulkar, Punjab wanted Yuvraj Singh, Bangalore wanted Dravid, Delhi wanted Sehwag, Kolkata wanted Ganguly, and so on. 
Last year, CSK’s owner N Srinivasan had spoken at Sportstar’s first-ever South Sports Conclave, where he told everyone how CSK came to buy Dhoni. He said, “At the IPL auctions, I missed the first two picks. I had asked V.B. Chandrasekhar – former Test cricketer from Tamil Nadu and aggressive opening bat – to hold the baton. At any price, I wanted MS Dhoni. The reason I felt very confident was I felt the other people did not know arithmetic. They had said that they will give 10 percent [15 percent] more to the icon player because they all wanted an icon.” 
He further continued, “Punjab wanted Yuvraj Singh, Delhi wanted Virender Sehwag, Bangalore Rahul Dravid, Mumbai Sachin Tendulkar. They asked me, I said no. My father taught me some arithmetic. I figured out if 1.5 million out of five went to the icon players – then what are you left with to get the rest of the 22 players” 
At the time of the first-ever auction in 2008, players were listed in US dollars. Dhon’s base price was $400,000, and he was bought by Chennai Super Kings for a whopping $1.5 million. 
But, there was one more team that Dhoni almost ended up playing for….
When Dhoni’s bidding started, he received bids from almost all franchises, and why wouldn’t he? Dhoni was the team’s poster boy back then and was entering the auction as the winning captain of the inaugural T20 World Cup. However, as the bidding inched closer to the 1 million mark, teams started slowly dropping out of the bid as they wanted to save enough for their icon players, and also to create a balanced team. 
However, there were two teams who were just not ready to give up, Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians. The two teams went up as high as 1.5 million USD, with Chennai making the final call. Continuing his auction story, Srinivasan tells, “Suddenly, Mumbai was bidding up to 1.5 million for Dhoni. Then they realized that they have to give the icon player 10 percent more than what they give the most expensive player. They said 3.5 million, everything gone, and they collapsed. And that is how MS Dhoni came to Chennai. It was 100 percent arithmetic. No other reason why we got him. The anxiety to get their favorite player was greater than their arithmetic.” 
This would’ve meant that Mumbai would have only been left with $1.5 million for their remaining pool of 20 players. Thus, fearing a huge team imbalance, Mumbai pulled out of the bid, and CSK ended up getting Dhoni. 
What if CSK had lost Dhoni? 
In all the editions of the Indian Premier League so far, Dhonii has proved CSK’s decision of sticking with him right. The former Indian captain led the franchise to glory 4 times in the league, the second most behind Rohit Sharma, who has led Mumbai Indians to 5 trophies. 
But, what if Mumbai had played ball with Chennai, and had actually acquired MS Dhoni? Would Mumbai still have the 5 titles to their name? Would they still be the most successful franchise in the league? 
Well, given Dhoni’s caliber and ability to manage a team efficiently, one can only anticipate the kind of wonders Dhoni would have done for the franchise. The kinds of results Dhoni achieved with the underdogs in Chennai, he would have doubled them if he had a team whose core comprised Sachin Tendulkar, Lasith Malinga, Keiron Pollard, and Zaheer Khan. 
Mumbai Indians won their first title in 2013 when Rohit Sharma took over the captaincy from Ricky Ponting mid-season. Despite having a star-studded lineup, Mumbai had to wait 5 years to get to their first trophy. On the other hand, Dhoni had already led Chennai to the cup two times by then, in 2010, and 2011. Had Mumbai roped in Dhoni in the first season, the franchise would have probably won the cup a few more times. Nonetheless, Mumbai still managed to be the most successful franchise in the league.
But, the bigger question here is, had Chennai performed this well if they had not bought Dhoni and made him captain? Under Dhoni’s captaincy, Chennai always rooted for the underdogs. The kind of impact Dhoni has had on the franchise is immeasurable. To stick with a franchise from the start to the end, and then to carry on the legacy each season requires inhuman effort. Chennai could have had some success without Dhoni, but it would not be equally monumental. Plus, the kind of fanbase that Chennai have currently may have not been the same without the impact of the man. 
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Aayush is an accomplished cricket author with a deep passion for cricket. He has been following cricket for more than a decade and has a wealth of knowledge on the game’s history, rules, and tactics. Aayush has written extensively on cricket, publishing articles and essays that have been well-received by both casual fans and cricket enthusiasts alike.
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