Dhoni steps aside and hands over CSK captaincy to Jadeja

Bombay: Twelve seasons, four title wins and five second places later, the iconic Mahendra Singh Dhoni has decided to hand over the Chennai Super Kings captaincy to his trusted lieutenant, Ravindra Jadeja.

However, in a brief statement, CSK said the 40-year-old will continue to represent the franchise for the “season and beyond” after leading one of the most successful IPL squads since the tournament’s inception in 2008 – excluding the two seasons in which the team was suspended in the wake of the spot-fixing scandal.

“MS Dhoni has decided to hand over the leadership of Chennai Super Kings and has chosen Ravindra Jadeja to lead the team. Jadeja, who has been an integral part of Chennai Super Kings since 2012, will be only the third player to lead CSK,” CSK said in a statement on Thursday.

“Dhoni will continue to represent Chennai Super Kings this season and beyond,” the franchise added.

Dhoni, 40, who announced his international retirement on August 15, 2020, had led CSK to their fourth title last season.

CSK plays KKR in the IPL 2022 opener here on Saturday.

The captain who has won the World Cup has always been his own man when it comes to leaving the captaincy or announcing his retirement.

He retired from Test captaincy and also the five-day match in the middle of a series in Australia in 2014. And when he was sure Virat Kohli was ready to lead India across different formats, Dhoni gave way to him in 2017.

Although the inspirational leader continued to play the IPL after announcing his international retirement in his inimitable style, his decision to hand over the leadership of CSK to Jadeja was not entirely surprising.

Dhoni knew he can’t go on forever and 33-year-old Jadeja, who is at his peak, is ready for the challenge. The southpaw was CSK’s number one pre-auction retention for Dhoni, Moeen Ali and Ruturaj Gaekwad.

The announcement still surprised CSK CEO Kasi Viswanathan, but he said that “if Dhoni makes a decision, it must be in the best interest of the team”.

“See whatever decision MS makes, it’s in the best interest of the team. So there is nothing wrong with us. We respect his decision. He is always there to guide us,” Viswanthan told PTI.

“He has always been the guiding force and will remain the guiding force.”

When asked if the 2022 edition could be his last season, the CEO added: “I don’t think it will be his last season. As long as he is fit, we want him to play. That’s my wish, I don’t know about him (what he thinks).”

Speaking of Jadeja’s ascent as captain, Viswanathan said the all-rounder is ready to do it right.

“You see Jaddu will do well. He is probably in the best shape of his career. He will certainly do well under MS guidance. Jaddu has been with us for 10 years and he knows the team culture very well,” he added.

We can safely say that CSK could not have become the brand it has become without the charismatic Dhoni, who developed a special bond with the team and its ardent fans.

Even while representing Pune Supergiant, when CSK was suspended for two seasons in 2016 and 2017, Dhoni’s heart remained with Chennai.

“I’ll be lying if I say I moved on. I can’t suddenly say that I am very excited to play for a new team and it will be wrong if I do not give credit to CSK and the people of Chennai for the last eight years of love and affection they have given to the team and me,” Dhoni had said ahead of the 2016 edition.

His stature grew as he penned the screenplay for CSK’s fairytale comeback after a two-year suspension, which led the team to its third title in 2018.

Mumbai Indians are the most successful IPL franchise with five titles, but they have not been able to match CSK’s consistency in reaching the play-offs.

Labeled the Dad’s Army in 2020 due to an aging squad, when CSK failed to reach the play-offs for the first time, Dhoni and Co made a remarkable comeback last season, winning their fourth title.

He may not have been the finisher he was in his heyday, but the skipper was able to boost the team and take it to the distance in the presence of rising stars.

Under his leadership, CSK has achieved a record 121 wins in 204 games in the IPL.

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