The IPL auction saw some high-profile changes and Faf Du Plessis was one of them. He is now a part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, ending a journey that went for over a decade at the Chennai Super Kings
In 2011, Faf Du Plessis joined the Chennai Super Kings after being bought by them in the auction. He was fresh into international Cricket the, and came back from England after playing as a kolpak player. With Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay doing well, Faf Du Plessis didn’t get any games in 2011.
In 2012, Faf got his first opportunity as Hussey was out for the first half of the season. He got off to a rapid start in the IPL, scoring consistently in each game. With Hussey out, Dhoni decided to try Faf in the middle order as opposed to his usual position in the middle-order for South Africa. With good performances, CSK kept Faf at the top as Vijay was out of form, even after Hussey’s return. CSK weren’t doing so good though and eventually had to shuffle their line-up a lot. Constant shuffling ended up putting Du Plessis back in the middle-order, and following a couple of low scores, Du Plessis was out of the eleven as CSK went with the successful Hussey-Vijay pair.
In 2013, Faf Du Plessis didn’t play a single game as CSK continued with the famous Hussey-Vijay pair. He was bought back in 2014 though, and again had to contend with opening options like Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith. By 2014, Faf Du Plessis’s international career picked up pace and he was the T20i skipper of South Africa. Due to a strong top-order, Faf Du Plessis took up a new role at the Chennai Super Kings. He played in the middle-order and partnered MS Dhoni as the finisher for Chennai Super Kings. He played most of the tournament, and finished with 303 runs. Towards the end of the tournament, Faf got a chance back at the top, with Brendan McCullum going on paternity leave.
In the gap, Faf did well at the top and stayed their even after McCullum’s return. 2015 saw Faf back in the middle-order though, and this time he was a pretty handy finisher again. He came in during the last few overs on a regular basis and helped with a string of boundaries. His steady approach came in handy on the slow Chennai wickets as well with Du Plessis regularly playing a steady hand to ensure his team uses the full innings. He played through the full season but didn’t get a chance to open as Mike Hussey took McCullum’s place when the latter went on national duty.
In 2016 and 2017, Du Plessis stayed with MS Dhoni at Rising Pune Supergiant. He didn’t play much due to injury and team combination, but came roaring back in 2018. In 2018, CSK bought him for 1.5Cr, retaining him using their right to match card. He couldn’t start the tournament though due to injury, and only came in mid-season. This time though, there was no adjustments to be made as Faf Du Plessis came into his regular opening slot with Rayudu moving down the order. Few games in though, CSK decided to go back to Rayudu and Watson at the top. With injury contining to hamper Faf, he was in and out throughout the season.
2018 though witnessed a masterclass from Faf Du Plessis. Facing Sunrisers Hyderabad in the qualifier, he played one of his best innings to save Chennai. Chasing 140 the likes of Watson, Raina, Rayudu and Dhoni failed. The responsibility fell on a man who is known for choking under pressure. His mix-up with Ab De Villiers in the 2011 Quarter-finals continues to be mentioned, but this time, Du Plessis handled the pressure beautifully. He batted through the innings, and with the help of a cameo from Shardul Thakur, CSK won by two wickets and set up another IPL Title nicely.
In 2019 Faf again missed the initial part of the tournament but once he was in he made a strong impact. He finished as CSK’s highest scorer on quiet a few occasions in the initial games he played, and also made 96, which was his highest score in the IPL. Over the course of the tournament, Faf Du Plessis also stepped up as a leader. With MS Dhoni sitting out, Du Plessis assisted Raina in a few stages. He helped the team get to the final, but was bowled in the finals after getting CSK off to a good start. With wickets falling, CSK ended up losing by one run.
2020 was Chennai Super Kings’s worst season, but Faf Du Plessis did try to step up in Suresh Raina’s absence. He was among the leading run-scorers and also held the orange cap briefly. He started with two fifties, and was very aggressive early in the tournament. Without much intent from the other players though, CSK couldn’t do well enough as Faf finished with 449 runs. It was one of his best seasons, and he was one of CSKs only bright spots in a forgettable tournament.
While 2020 was one of his best, 2021 was his best. He formed a formidable partnership with young Ruturaj Gaikwad as both batters finished with the most runs in the tournament. Du Plessis finished with a tally of 633 runs, and was just a couple runs behind Gaikwad for the orange cap. With six fifties at a good rate, Du Plessis kept making runs, and always gave CSK a strong platform, allowing the likes of Ali, Rayudu and Jadeja go at their explosive best in the middle and death overs. Du Plessis made another 90+ score, scoring 95 and narrowly missing out on a hundred. He also had a 76 in which he battled cramps and lack of partners, as he single-handedly took Chennai to a decent score.
The finals saw Faf Du Plessis rise above all once again. He scored 86, and kept attacking the bowling as CSK went on to make 192. He was the player of the match in the finals, and his knock was very important in their run to a fourth title. Unfortunately, the innings turned out to be his last in yellow. Faf Du Plessis has now been picked up by Bangalore, and will be seen in a new color. Along with a new team, Faf could also be seen as a leader, with Bangalore looking to appoint him as captain. Although the jersey and role change, one thing is always clear. Faf Du Plessis is always a Chennai Boy who has entertained the Chennai crowd for the best part of a decade. His career began with Chennai, and now, after Test retirement, Faf Du Plessis leaves Chennai. He is still active in limited-overs internationals, and many are eagerly awaiting his selection.