1. Hayden in unusual position
MS Dhoni knows the contours of limited-over cricket more than any other player. Kieron Pollard was on a rampage in the IPL 2010 final between Super Kings and Mumbai Indians. When the 19th over started, Mumbai needed 33 from 12 balls and it was not a tough task considering Pollard's presence and in the previous over he had smoked 22 runs. Dhoni placed Matthew Hayden at mid-off, albeit a more straight mid-off. Pollard smashed Albie Morkel straight into the hands of Hayden and Chennai won the trophy for the first time.
2. Ashwin against Gayle
Murali Vijay and Michael Hussey made quickfire fifties as Chennai Super Kings made 205 for 5 in 20 overs in the IPL 2011 final. It was a big total to chase in the MA Chidambaram stadium but Royal Challengers Bangalore had Chris Gayle in their line-up, who has been in pristine form that season. The Jamaican had made 608 runs from 12 matches at 67.55 at a strike-rate of 183.13 with two hundreds and three 50s. Gayle's form had a big role in RCB finishing at the top of the table during the league phase with 19 points.
It required a special effort to dislodge Gayle and Dhoni brought in R Ashwin for the first over in a surprise move. Ashwin till then had 17 wickets from 15 matches at an impressive strike-rate 18.9 and his economy stood at a frugal 6.1. In the fourth ball of the first over, Ashwin trapped Gayle plumb in front to jolt RCB and they never really recovered, managing only 147/8 as CSK successfully defended their title.
3. Making Rayudu opener
Ambati Rayudu joined Chennai Super Kings ahead of the 2018 season from Mumbai Indians, from he never really got a consistent run. There were doubters over the CSK's purchase of Rayudu, a struggling batsman then. But Dhoni made him open in 2018, the season that marked CSK's comeback into IPL fold after a two-year suspension. The move paid off handsomely as Rayudu made 602 runs that helped a great deal in CSK's title run that season. He was the fourth highest run-getter behind Kane Williamson, Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul, and also opened the doors of Team India for him after a few years.
4. Using Chahar in Power Plays
Deepak Chahar has been a force to reckon with in domestic circuit especially in the red-ball format and swing has been his greatest ally. And conditions in North India generally suited his style of bowling. But the sultry Chennai was a different challenge and he also did not have outright pace to hustle the batsmen. But Dhoni found a good role for him.
The Jharkhand man entrusted Chahar the challenge of bowling in the Power Plays. With the ball being new, Chahar managed to find some swing in the initial overs that coupled with slowness of Chepauk pitch made the life of batsmen miserable. Chahar grabbed 22 wickets in IPL 2019, third highest behind team-mate Imran Tahir (26) and Delhi Capitals' Kagiso Rabada (25). The effort also pitchforked him to the Indian team.