Images: Courtesy IPL/BCCI
Dhoni was soon eclipsed by Rohit Sharma as Mumbai Indians have won a good three of the last five IPL titles. MI's fortunes turned around after icon player Sachin Tendulkar retired with even Harbhajan Singh leading them to a Champions League title.
So who will win in the leadership battle between Dhoni and Rohit? If Rohit wins, then MI will replace CSK as the greatest IPL team ever. If Dhoni wins, then he'll catch up with Rohit. Dhoni was unlucky last year also as he watched MI lift the title at the cost of Rising Pune Supergiant.
Interestingly Gautam Gambhir won two titles for Kolkata Knight Riders but got axed. He's got a second chance with his captaincy of Delhi Daredevils and could also get his third title to join Rohit and go past Dhoni.
This time many Indian captains are seeking their first IPL title in 2018:
Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Ravichandran Ashwin (Kings XI Punjab) and Dinesh Karthik (Kolkata Knight Riders).
Ajinkya Rahane (Rajasthan Royals) joins the fray with the sacking of Australian Steve Smith after the sandpaper ball-tampering scandal in the recently concluded Australia-South Africa Test series.
Best wicket-keeper: Dhoni versus Karthik
Poor Dinesh Karthik. He has always lived in Dhoni's shadow. While Dhoni is master of the last ball-last over finish, Karthik probably gave India the best two last overs in ODIs when he plundered 29 off 8 balls in the final of the Nidahas Trophy, but he's still not a Team India regular.
But if there's one place where Karthik leads, then it IPL dismissals as wicket-keeper. He has 106 to Dhoni's 102. However, it's a close battle and Dhoni could well go past Karthik in IPL 2018. Karthik also is captain of KKR, so if he wins, that's another chance to break out of Dhoni's shadow.
Ultimate run machine: Raina versus Kohli
For years, Raina has dominated IPL run scoring and he still has the most runs (4540), most catches (86, with second-placed AB de Villiers way behind at 72) and most matches (161, with both Dhoni and Rohit at 159).
However Kohli has had a stellar IPL run and is closing in on Raina. He is behind Raina by a good 122 runs but with the way Kohli has been belting runs, he could well overtake Raina before the halfway mark of IPL 2018.
New bowling champion: Harbhajan Singh versus Amit Mishra
Lasith Malinga is only 34 years old and is the clear leader in terms of IPL wickets with 154. However, with Malinga going unsold in the 2018 edition (has he virtually retired?), he could be dethroned. We have Amit Misra at 134, Bhajji with 127 and Piyush Chawla at 126.
Praveen Kumar has the most all-time dot balls at 1075. However, Bhajji has 1062 dot balls and could well become the leader in 2018. Praveen also has the most maidens (14) and took a hat-trick too, but is not good enough for 2018. Mishra has three hat-tricks. If he gets his fourth one in 2018, then it would be some record.
Battle to the bottom: Dubious records
DD has lost the most matches at 82, but KXIP is not far behind with 78. In terms of ducks, it's Bhajji (13), Gambhir (12) and Parthiv Patel (12).
When it comes to most runs conceded in an innings, it is surprisingly India all of the way: Ishant Sharma (66 runs), Umesh Yadav (65), Sandeep Sharma (65), Varun Aaron (63) and Ashok Dinda (63). Which Indian bowler will join this list in 2018?
The overall batting emperor survives.
These are the IPL records of West Indian Chris Gayle: Most centuries (5), most sixes (265), highest score (175*), most sixes in an innings (17), most man of the match awards (18) and fastest century (30 balls).
Despite this stellar performance, Gayle was let go from RCB and went unsold in the first round of the auction.
But better sense prevailed and Gayle was picked up by KXIP in the third round. Will a scorned Gayle kick up a bigger storm? You can definitely say it will be Gayle versus the rest and this old fox (aged 38) may still have a few surprises up his sleeve.
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here