In September 2007, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the establishment of the Indian Premier League, a Twenty20 competition to be started in 2008. In January 2008, the BCCI unveiled the owners of eight city-based franchises. The Chennai franchise was sold to the India Cements for $91 million, making it the fourth most expensive team in the league behind Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. India Cements acquired the rights to the franchise for 10 years. N. Srinivasan, vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements Ltd., is the de facto owner of the Chennai Super Kings, by means of his position within the company. He is a former BCCI President and the current chairman of ICC.
During the first player auctions for the inaugural IPL season conducted in January 2008, the Chennai franchise bought a number of contemporary star cricketers such as Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Matthew Hayden, Stephen Fleming, Muttiah Muralitharan and Michael Hussey. Mahendra Singh Dhoni became the costliest player of the auction, as the Chennai franchise bought him for $1.5 million. The franchise named Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the captain of the team and appointed Kepler Wessels as the head coach. They played their first game on 19 April 2008 against Kings XI Punjab at Mohali. The Super Kings won the game by 33 runs after posting 240/5 in 20 overs, which was the highest total of the tournament, a record surpassed by themselves in 2010. The Super Kings ended the league stage with eight wins from 14 games and finished third on the points table. They beat the Kings XI Punjab by 9 wickets in the semifinal. The Super Kings faced the Rajasthan Royals in the final of the IPL at Mumbai. Batting first, the Super Kings scored 163/5 in 20 overs and lost the game by 3 wickets off the final delivery of the match. They also earned a spot in the inaugural Champions League Twenty20 along with Rajasthan, but the tournament was cancelled due to the 2008 Mumbai Attacks and the Super Kings, along with Rajasthan, received $5 million each as compensation. Fleming, who had decided to retire from all forms of the game after the first season of the IPL, took over as the coach of the Super Kings team from Wessels for the next season which was to be held in South Africa.
For the 2009 season, the Super Kings bought English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff for $1.55 million at the auction making him the highest-paid IPL cricketer along with English teammate Kevin Pietersen who was bought for the same amount by Royal Challengers Bangalore. However, Flintoff played only 3 matches for them before suffering a knee injury that ruled him out of the season. The Super Kings were also without the services of Hussey who had decided to skip the IPL season to focus on The Ashes. The Super Kings finished with 17 points from 14 matches and earned a second place at the league table. However, at the semi-finals, their hopes of entering the final for a second time were crushed by the Royal Challengers who beat them by 6 wickets. The Super Kings opener Matthew Hayden, who scored 572 runs in 12 innings with 5 half-centuries at an average of 52 and strike-rate of 145, won the Orange Cap for the leading run-scorer of the season and was also adjudged Player of the Tournament.
In 2010, the Super Kings struggled in the first half of the regular season, winning only two matches out of seven. They won four of their next five games in the season mainly due to the efforts of Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina. After a defeat at home to the Delhi Daredevils, the Super Kings were left with a must-win match against Kings XI Punjab at Dharamsala. The Super Kings won the match by six wickets as they chased down the target of 193 with two balls to spare with skipper Dhoni scoring an unbeaten 54 from 29 balls. Thus, with seven wins from 14 matches, Chennai finished with the same number of points as three other teams with two semi-final spots at stake. Chennai got the third place as they had the better net run rate of the four teams which finished on 14 points. In the semifinal, the Super Kings scored a modest 142/7 in 20 overs against the defending champions Deccan Chargers. But an inspired bowling spell from Doug Bollinger (4/13 in four overs) did the most damage as the Chargers were bowled out for 104. This gave the Super Kings a 38-run victory that took them to the final. The Super Kings faced the tournament favorites Mumbai Indians at their home ground in the final. Suresh Raina's 57 (35) helped the Super Kings recover from 68/3 after 12 overs to put up 168/5 at the end of their 20 overs. Then, their spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Muralitharan conceded only 41 runs in the 8 overs bowled between them to help the Super Kings won the game by 22 runs and secure their first ever IPL title. With this, the Super Kings also qualified for the 2010 Champions League Twenty20 that was held in South Africa.
At the Champions League, the Super Kings were placed in Group A along with champions of Twenty20 competitions from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. The Super Kings topped the Group table with three wins and a Super Over defeat to the Victorian Bushrangers. In the semi-final at Durban, the Super Kings comprehensively defeated IPL rivals Royal Challengers Bangalore by 52 runs. Raina won the Man of the match for his unbeaten 94 off 48 balls. The Super Kings played their first CLT20 final at Johannesburg where they beat the Chevrolet Warriors by 8 wickets, becoming the first IPL team to win the CLT20. Murali Vijay won not only the Man of the Match in the final for his 58 but also the Golden Bat for scoring the most runs in the tournament and Ashwin, who was the leading wicket-taker, was adjudged the Player of the Series. At the end of the season, Matthew Hayden decided to retire from the IPL.
Michael Hussey was the leading run-scorer for the Super Kings in both 2011 and 2013.
In 2011, as two new teams were added to the IPL, the IPL Governing Council declared that each franchise could retain a maximum of four players of their squad, only three of whom can be Indian players, and the rest of the international players would be put in the mega-auction. The Chennai franchise, keen to have the same set of core players, retained captain MS Dhoni, vice-captain Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay and all-rounder Albie Morkel for a total of $4.5 million. The retention left them with the power of spending only $4.5 million at the mega-auction. At the auction, they bought back some of their star players of previous seasons such as Hussey, Ashwin, Bollinger and Subramaniam Badrinath. In the 2011 IPL, they lost three of their first five games which placed them at the bottom of the ten-team points table. But then, they went on to win seven of their next eight games to finish second and register a spot in the knockout stages. They faced the top-ranked team Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Qualifying final which they won by 6 wickets thanks to an unbeaten 73 from Suresh Raina. In the final, they faced the same opponents again, which was held at their home ground Chepauk. Vijay and Hussey put on a 133-run first-wicket partnership that helped the Super Kings to post a total of 205/5. Their bowlers, then, restricted Bangalore to only 147 to take the Super Kings to second consecutive title in the IPL. Vijay was awarded Man of the Match for his match-winning innings of 95. CSK also won all their home games that season becoming the first team in IPL to achieve the feat. However at the Champions League later that year, they won only one out of their four group matches and finished at the bottom.
In 2012, the franchise signed up Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja for $2 million at the players' auction. They got off to a rather slow start in the regular season, winning only five of their first 12 games which put them in doubt of qualifying for the Playoffs. Then they won three of their last four matches and qualified for the Playoffs with a better net run rate than the Royal Challengers who also finished with the same number of points. In the Eliminator, they beat the Mumbai Indians by 38 runs before thrashing the table-toppers Delhi Daredevils in the Qualifying final by 86 runs. Murali Vijay, who struck his second IPL hundred (113 off 58 balls), won the Man of the Match. At the final, the Super Kings were defeated by 5 wickets by the Kolkata Knight Riders who chased down the target of 191 with two balls to spare, thus denying the Super Kings a hat-trick of titles in the IPL. At the Champions League, once again they could not progress past the group stage with two wins and two defeats.
In 2013, the Super Kings strengthened their bowling attack by signing up five overseas and five Indian bowlers. In the IPL season, they finished first in the points table with 11 wins from 16 matches and qualified for the Playoffs and 2013 CLT20. This was the first time in six seasons that the Super Kings had topped the league table of the IPL. During the season, they also equaled Royal Challengers Bangalore's 2011 record for most wins in succession in the IPL (7 wins on trot). In the first Qualifier at Delhi against Mumbai Indians, the Super Kings posted 192/1 in 20 overs riding on unbeaten half-centuries from Hussey (86* off 58 balls) and Raina (82* off 42 balls) before bowling out their opponents for 144. Thus they entered the final of the IPL for the fourth time in succession where they would play the same opponents, Mumbai Indians, at Kolkata. At the final, batting first, the Mumbai Indians made 148/9 in their 20 overs. In reply, the Super Kings were reduced to 39/6 at one stage before an unbeaten half-century from skipper Dhoni took them close to the target. However, Mumbai Indians won the match by 23 runs to win their first ever IPL title. Super Kings opening batsman Michael Hussey, who scored 733 runs that season at an average of 52, won the Orange Cap for the most runs in the season while all-rounder Dwayne Bravo won the Purple Cap for bagging the most wickets (32). The Super Kings gained direct qualification for the 2013 CLT20 which was held in India in September–October. They were placed in Group B alongside Brisbane Heat, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Titans and Trinidad & Tobago. They won their first three games before losing the final group match against Trinidad & Tobago. With 12 points from four matches, the Super Kings progressed to the semifinals where they suffered a 14-run defeat at the hands of the Rajasthan Royals at Jaipur.
In 2014, before the players' mega-auction, Chennai retained Dhoni, Raina, Jadeja, Ashwin and Bravo. The retention left them with a purse of 21 crores to spend at the auction. At the auction, the franchise bought the likes of Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Faf du Plessis, Ashish Nehra, Mohit Sharma among others. The first phase of the IPL season, as it coincided with the general elections, was held in UAE. The second phase returned to India, but the Super Kings' home matches were shifted from Chennai, due to "a deadlock between stadium authorities and the state administration", to JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi. The Super Kings started the season with a defeat in the opening match, after which they went on to win eight of their next nine matches to take the first spot in the points table. However, they suffered a loss of form towards the end of the regular season which resulted in three consecutive defeats. They won their last league fixture and finished third in the points table and qualified for the Eliminator against the fourth-placed Mumbai Indians. They won the Eliminator at Mumbai by 7 wickets and qualified for the Qualifier. At the Qualifier against Kings XI Punjab, the Super Kings won the toss and elected to field. Punjab went on to score 226/6 in their 20 overs. The Super Kings, in reply, could manage only 202/7 despite a 25-ball 87 from Raina. They crashed out of the IPL, but, on account of finishing third, qualified for the main event of the 2014 CLT20. There they won the title of Champions league T20 for the second time (2010)against the most powerful Kolkata Knight Riders.
The home ground of the Super Kings is the historic M. A. Chidambaram Stadium (commonly called "The Chepauk") located in Chennai. The stadium is named after former BCCI President M. A. Chidambaram. It is the oldest stadium in India which is in continuous use. The stadium is owned by the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association and has a seating capacity of 50,000 as of May 2013. In 2010, the stadium underwent a major renovation for hosting some of the matches of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup. The seating capacity was increased from 36,000 to 50,000 and three new stands were established during this renovation.
The Super Kings have a 67.44% win record at this venue, which is often referred to as "Fortress Chepauk" and "Lions' den". In the 2011 season, the Super Kings won all their home games (8 matches) including the final against Royal Challengers Bangalore. The Super Kings thus became the first team to win all their home games in a season and also the first team to win the tournament at home.
Panoramic view of the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in 2012.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was the captain of the Indian limited-overs team in 2008, was bought by the Super Kings for $1.5 million at the 2008 players' auction. He was the most expensive player in the IPL until 2009 when the Super Kings signed up English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff for $1.55 million, he is not a part of the team now. Dhoni is the most successful captain in the IPL having led the team to five finals, winning two. He has a success rate of 61.05% as captain which is the best among all captains in the IPL who have captained in at least 20 games.
The vice-captain of the team since the first season is Suresh Raina. Raina is the most capped player in the history of IPL and has not missed a single match for the Super Kings till date. He is currently the highest run-scorer in the history of IPL and the only player to have scored more than 400 runs in each season. He also holds the record for most catches in IPL.
Australian batsman Michael Hussey has the best batting average for the Super Kings. He was the first batsman from the Super Kings to score a century in the IPL. After Matthew Hayden's retirement in 2010, Hussey took over his place of opening batsman and was the team's leading run-scorer in 2011 and 2013 seasons.Murali Vijay, who played for the team from 2009 to 2013, is the only Indian batsman to have scored two centuries in the IPL. Super Kings' spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has the third best economy rate in IPL (6.53) and is the leading wicket-taker for the team.
The Chennai franchise named the team as Chennai Super Kings to honor the rulers of the Tamil empire. The word "super" is used commonly in southern India especially in Tamil Nadu to describe exciting and thrilling things or events. The team name also derives from India Cements' brand "Coromandel King".
The team logo features the head of a roaring lion in orange and the team name rendered in blue. The crown above the team name is the same as that used in the logo of the brand Coromandel King. According to the logo designers, since lion is the king of the jungle, the roaring lion logo reflects the team name. The details of the logo signifies various qualities such as youth, vibrancy, solid performance orientation and fiery spirit.
The team's primary color is yellow with blue and orange stripes on either sides of the jersey. The jersey also incorporates the roaring lion logo in the center of the shirt below the logo of the main sponsor Aircel. The basic look of the jersey has remained same from the first season with a few minor changes. The kit manufacturer is Reebok.
Telecom service provider Aircel became the team's first shirt sponsor after they signed a three-year deal in 2008. They acquired branding rights on the players uniform including shirts and hats during IPL, rights for in-stadia branding, and sponsoring man-of-the-match awards for matches played in Chennai. In 2011, Aircel renewed its sponsorship contract by paying more than 850 million. According to The Economic Times, it is the most expensive sponsorship deal in IPL. Besides Aircel, the team also has sponsorship deals with Gulf Oil, Pepsi, Reebok and Usha. In 2013, they signed up Nissan Motors and VGN as associate sponsors. In April 2014, the team signed up UST Global as its principal sponsor for a three-year period.
Cognetix is the Official Headphone Partner for the Chennai Super Kings. The company would produce official CSK Headphones and Earphone merchandise for the coming IPL 2014 season.
The theme song of the Super Kings is the famous Whistle Podu designed by Aravind-Shankar (duo of Aravind Murali and Jaishankar Iyer). Although the track was created only for YouTube in 2008, it gained popularity during the 2009 season and later became the team's theme song. The video of the song represents the street dance form of dappangutthu which is very popular among certain communities in Tamil Nadu. It is also a folk dance and music genre employed in Tamil cinema. The dance step and the term Whistle Podu are the inventions of the choreographer of the video. The recordings of some of the Super Kings players whistling was said to be used in the video.
The Chennai Super Kings have an active rivalry with the Mumbai Indians. The two teams have played against each other more number of times than any other teams in the IPL. They are the two most successful IPL teams and often termed as "big spenders" at the players auction. The two sides have met each other at the final of the IPL twice, with both winning one each.
The Economic Times commissioned UK-based Brand Finance to carry out brand evaluation of the IPL and also each of the eight franchise teams (that was increased to 10 in 2011). Chennai Super Kings was rated as the "most valuable team" in the Indian Premier League in 2010–11, with a brand value of $100 million (app 2.24 billion). In February 2013, London based Brand Finance evaluated the top 150 most valuable teams in the world, in which Chennai Super Kings is placed in the 147th place valued at $46 million just behind the Mumbai Indians.
Until September 2008, BCCI regulation, Clause 6.2.4 stated that "No administrator could have, directly or indirectly, any commercial interest in the matches or events conducted by the board". However, N. Srinivasan, who was then the treasurer and vice-chairman of BCCI, became the de facto owner of the Chennai Super Kings since he was the Managing Director of India Cements. Former BCCI President A. C. Muthiah wrote to the BCCI regarding the violation of this clause in 2008 but the BCCI did not respond. In September 2008, Muthiah went to the Madras High Court to restrain BCCI from allowing Srinivasan to participate in the general body meeting where the election was to be held. However, the suit was dismissed by the High Court and the following day, Srinivasan was elected as the Secretary of BCCI. The clause was amended as "No administrator shall have, directly or indirectly, any commercial interest in any of the events of the BCCI, excluding IPL, Champions League and Twenty20". Muthiah then moved to the Supreme Court which gave a split verdict in April 2011. Later in August 2011, Muthiah filed another petition to stop Srinivasan from taking over as the BCCI President but the Supreme Court rejected the petition, and Srinivasan was elected the President of BCCI.
In 2011, the owners of other teams were concerned about the possible rigging that could have taken place in the IPL auctions. Nita Ambani, the owner of Mumbai Indians, came out in open questioning how fair it was to change the order of players in the auction just a few hours before it began. Former IPL chairman Lalit Modi also accused Srinivasan of arm-twisting him and rigging the 2009 IPL auction to ensure that English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff was bought by the Chennai Super Kings.
In May 2013, Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of Srinivasan, was arrested by Mumbai Police on charges of placing bets on IPL matches and passing on vital team information to bookies. Meiyappan, who was the Team Principal of the Super Kings, was issued a summons by the Mumbai Police in the backdrop of the IPL spot-fixing case and on interrogation it was found that Meiyappan was in contact with bookies through actor Vindu Dara Singh. Following this, Srinivasan, on 2 June 2013, decided to step aside as BCCI President temporarily until the inquiry into the spot-fixing case completed. In February 2014, the three member panel appointed by the Supreme Court of India to inquire into the spot fixing scandal indicted Meiyappan for illegal betting and passing on information about team strategies to bookies during the 2013 IPL.
On 25 March 2014, the Supreme Court of India issued an ultimatum to the BCCI demanding that Srinivasan either step down as President or be removed from his position. On 27 March 2014, the Supreme Court asked the BCCI to suspend Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings from the Indian Premier League.