The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the place where talent meets opportunity, and has seen some enthralling performances over the years. Some cricketers have become synonymous with certain teams. When someone hears the name Chennai Super Kings, the one player that comes into the everyone's mind is Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
While AB de Villiers is instantly recognized as Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) player and Andre Russell is recognized as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) player, only a few remember that both these players started with the Delhi Daredevils.
Loyalty is something that is rarely found in franchise-based cricket. But over the course of 11 years, there have been several instances of loyalty. Here are 6 cricketers who have featured in the same franchise for 10 or more years.
#7 Harbhajan Singh - Mumbai Indians (2008- 2017)
Harbhajan Singh may not have been born in Mumbai, but Mumbai will certainly be one of his homes. This statement is not just because of his long stint with Mumbai Indians, but also because Bhajji was part of the famous World Cup win in 2011 which took place in the Wankhede Stadium.
In 2008, Harbhajan Singh was picked by the Mumbai Indians in the first ever auction, and with an injury to Sachin Tendulkar in the early stages of the tournament, Harbhajan was appointed as the captain to the lead the side. He was also the stand-in captain in the Champion League 2011 tournament which saw MI winning the gold for the first time.
In the 137 matches that he represented the team in blue and gold, Harbhajan has taken a total of 127 wickets and has also played some vital knocks with the bat.
The mega-auction in 2018 saw Chennai Super Kings (arch rivals of MI) buying the Turbanator.
#5 Suresh Raina - Chennai Super Kings (2008- 2015 and 2018-Present)
If there is one player who could define IPL, it is Suresh Raina. He has achieved everything there is to offer in IPL.
Raina is the highest run scorer in IPL history and will go down as one of the greatest batsmen to play this format. IPL is the only arena wherein he has overcome his kryptonite: the short ball. Most of his runs came while wearing the yellow jersey.
Raina was the backbone of IPL giant Chennai Super Kings' success and when the side faced a two year exile after the 2015 season, he captained the temporary franchise Gujarat Lions as well. When CSK returned from the hiatus, he was one of the three players retained by the franchise.
Suresh has scored more than 5000 runs in this tournament and will go down as one of the best players that CSK has ever produced.
#4 Mahendra Singh Dhoni - Chennai Super Kings (2008- 2015 and 2018-Present)
It is a no-brainer to add MS Dhoni into a list of great captains in IPL. He is one of the greatest minds to ever play cricket is also the most successful captain in IPL.
Dhoni's legacy on Indian cricket as well as on Chennai Super Kings will be part of massive folklore which people will talk about for many generations.
MSD has scored more than 4000 runs in this cash-rich tournament and has won three IPLs.
Everything that MS Dhoni has touched has turned into gold in IPL. He is a mastermind in the field, deadly with the bat in the death overs, also swift behind the wickets. Dhoni has taken CSK to the playoffs in every season, featured in eight IPL finals and won three of them.
It will be painful to see the men in the yellow march on to the field without their captain leading from the front when Dhoni decides to call it a day and it will be difficult for anyone to match the huge standards set by him.
#3 Lasith Mailnga - Mumbai Indians (2008 - 2017 and Present)
Lasith Malinga is one of the few players who has been in the same team in the IPL right from its inception. He didn't get enough games in the first edition but was a regular from the second onwards.
His lethal pace and toe-crushing yorkers made him one of the standouts in the entire competition and the Mumbai Indians always retained whenever they got the chance until the 2018 season where he was not picked by any franchise but Mumbai side made him a bowling mentor for the team.
Malinga was suffering from continuous injuries that time and even he was dropped from the national team due to his form and fitness. In the 2019 auctions, Malinga was picked by the Mumbai Indians again but this time as a player to continue the association.
#2 Kieron Pollard- Mumbai Indians (2010 - Present)
Another player that Mumbai Indians made sure has not gone to other franchises is Kieron Pollard. He was part of the national side from 2007, but his exploits at the Champions League in 2009 caught everyone's eyes, none more so than the Mumbai Indians'.
In the 2010 auctions, Kieron Pollard was the most expensive purchase, and this left everyone surprised on what he will bring to the table. He proved his worth to the team in the early years of his arrival by coming in with some valuable contributions time after time in crunch situations both with the bat and on the field.
Kieron Pollard was one of the factors in Mumbai Indians winning the IPL titles 3 times, and their turnaround after a poor couple of seasons. His form may have dropped a bit but the franchise still has great confidence in the big man, and have retained him again for the 12th edition.
#1 Virat Kohli- Royal Challengers Bangalore (2008- Present)
Imagine an IPL auction in which Virat Kohli's name included in it in his current form and how much he will go for. That will remain a question as the Royal Challengers Bangalore have made sure this has not happened so far. They have retained him season after season right from 2008 where he was bought by them as a 19-year-old kid.
Since then, he has achieved a lot more than many players have done. RCB may not have won the IPL title but one cannot take away anything from Virat Kohli, and his efforts to win them one. With his current success as the skipper of the Indian team, there is nothing that he can do wrong at the moment.
RCB's confidence in Virat may have played a huge part in his success early on in his career and he has repaid them in every aspect except an IPL title which will happen soon.