Players who fans will associate certain IPL teams for life

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Since IPL’s inception in 2008, IPL franchises have enjoyed quite a success. However, there are a few players who played a crucial role in a franchise’s success and popularity so much so that fans started associating the player equal to the IPL franchise. Here we look at some players which helped the franchises grow an identity and who share a special bond.

Here are some players and franchises that go hand-in-hand:

David Warner – Sunrisers Hyderabad

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David Warner joined Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2014 for a price of USD 880,000 and changed the landscape of the franchise after taking over the captaincy in 2015. The pocket-sized dynamite scored more than 400 runs in every season since his arrival to the Orange Army (apart from the recent season). He won the orange cap not once, but thrice during his time with SRH. He even led SRH to its maiden title win in 2016.

Fans in Hyderabad love David Warner as their own and Warner has embraced Hyderabad as his home away from home. Warner’s love for Hyderabad and India, in general, is quite visible on his Instagram and TikTok videos where he entertains fans when he’s off the field.

However, the love affair of Warner and SRH came to an abrupt end as the franchise had a fallout with the Southpaw after he went through a bad season in 2021. He was stripped of his captaincy midway in the tournament and was dropped from the team. Clearly, this enraged the loyal Warner fans who took to social media to vent their anger. Warner was not even allowed to travel with the team to the ground during the UAE phase of the IPL.

Furthermore, Sunrisers fans trended #NoWarnerNoSRH on Twitter and demanded the management to retain Warner ahead of the mega auction. Clearly, that didn’t happen as Warner was released and roped in by his former IPL team, Delhi. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Warner’s loyal fan base would shift their support to Delhi for the upcoming IPL 2022.

Virat Kohli – Royal Challengers Bangalore

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Royal Challengers Bangalore may not have won a single IPL title but yet they have one of the most loyal and supportive fan bases which keep on increasing every year. The main reason why RCB enjoys such a fan following is that they have the world’s biggest star in Virat Kohli.

Virat is the only player in IPL’s history who has played for the same franchise since the inception of IPL in 2008. He joined the team after leading the India U19 to its second World Title win. Since then, his stature and fan following have grown immensely which has also contributed to RCB’s popularity.

In 207 matches that he has played for RCB, Kohli has amassed over 6200 runs which include 42 fifties and 5 centuries out of which four centuries came in the dream season he had in 2016.

Irrespective of RCB’s performance in the previous seasons, their fans carry the same enthusiasm for every new season as they chant  “Ee Sala Cup Namde” which translates to “The cup is ours this year”.

Without a doubt, Virat Kohli defines the identity of RCB. Kohli has clearly mentioned that he doesn’t see himself playing for any other franchise other than RCB. On the other hand, RCB won’t let go of the modern-day legend either as they share a very strong connection despite results not going in their favor. Even the fans are not ready to see a Kohli-less RCB side.

Rohit Sharma – Mumbai Indians

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2011 was a game-changing year for Mumbai Indians who had lost the IPL finals the previous year and performed below expectations in the initial two years of IPL. In the 2011 mega auction, they roped in a young Rohit Sharma for 2 million dollars, who was hailed as the next big thing in Indian cricket. And the “Hitman” exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Rohit Sharma, who was playing for his home side Mumbai, was handed the leadership role midway in the tournament in 2013 after Ricky Ponting stepped down from the role. However, Rohit stood up to the task and converted adversity into an opportunity as he led Mumbai to its maiden title win in the same season.

The Hitman didn’t stop there as he added four more titles to his tally as Mumbai Indians became the most successful IPL team in history. Leading MI also brought the best in Rohit from a batting point of view and gave the Indian team a great captaincy candidate.

Mumbai Indians popularity grew immensely under Rohit. As per a study conducted by Media consulting firm Ormax Media on ‘IPL Franchise Fans’ in 2020, MI is the second most followed IPL franchise with 24.8 Million fans.

Rohit Sharma created a fantastic atmosphere for the players as MI was hailed as the strongest franchise. Rohit’s humble nature and supportive attitude towards his players gained every fan’s appreciation. Looks like the association between Rohit and Mumbai will last for eternity as the two share a very close bond.

MS Dhoni – Chennai Super Kings

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At this point in time, Chennai Super Kings and MS Dhoni are considered synonymous. The stakeholder of Chennai Super Kings and India Cements Ltd (ICL) vice-chairman and managing director N Srinivasan has already cleared the fact that Dhoni is part and parcel of CSK. There is no CSK without Dhoni and there is no Dhoni without CSK.

Undoubtedly, Dhoni is the best skipper that CSK could have fetched in the initial auction and they did their best to grab one of the greatest Indian skippers for a record $1.5 million. And Dhoni did not disappoint as he successfully led CSK to four IPL title wins, two Champions Trophy wins, and CSK qualified for the playoffs in almost all seasons (barring 2020).

As per Media consulting firm Ormax Media, CSK has the largest and strongest fanbase with 26.8 million fans. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that most of these die hearts fans support the Yellow brigade because of MS Dhoni.

CSK fans hail MS Dhoni as Thala who enjoys massive popularity in the South. When CSK was banned from the IPL for a couple of seasons, Dhoni shifted his base to Pune. This made a lot of CSK fans shift their support to the Rising Pune Supergiants.

As age is not on the side of MS Dhoni, it is safe to assume that IPL 2022 may be the last season for Thala. However, due to the kind of connection that CSK and Dhoni share, he may be seen in the CSK camp as a mentor, coach, or in any other capacity.

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