Retirement and farewell Mahendra Singh Dhoni does not take any match very seriously. Despite how important he is to Indian cricket and world cricket itself, Mahi is the one who said goodbye to international cricket by posting on social media that ‘after 19:29 I should consider myself retired’. BCCI was all set to organize a farewell match in royal pomp, but Dhoni did not say a word.
If you ask the senior cricketers who stopped playing during Dhoni’s captaincy about Mr. Cool’s ‘retirement plan’, they will have a different opinion. Even Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid have been wasted without a much hyped final match. Many could not even get Dhoni on the phone to inform them.
Will Dhoni like this make the IPL good enough this season? Will the star who came from Jharkhand and became the head of Chennai get a royal send-off in ‘Chepok’? Captain Cool’s last IPL match will probably be against Kolkata Knight Riders at Chepauk on May 14 if CSK does not make it to the playoffs. The team management is ready to give a memorable send-off, but Dhoni is yet to make his decision clear. Earlier, Dhoni had said that it was enough to play in front of Chennai’s own crowd in Chepok. A desire that was not there even when he retired from the Indian team! Perhaps this is the reason why Dhoni is seen in the yellow jersey even after two seasons of being denied a home ground by Covid. Let’s wait for the answer that only Dhoni knows…
∙ CSK means head
There is no limit to the love and respect of MS Dhoni fans. After waiting for hours, they buy tickets for Chennai’s match to watch Thala’s flag waving. When Dhoni came to the crease in the first match of the 16th season, the CSK-Gujarat match was watched for the longest time on the streaming app. The fact that even superstar Ajith Kumar had to ask him not to call him Thala anymore due to the harassment of Dhoni fans is a testament to Mahik’s fan base in Chennai. When IPL started in 2008, there were icon players. Sachin Tendulkar for Mumbai Indians, Sourav Ganguly for Kolkata…etc.
But India Cements, the owners of Chennai, chose Jharkhand’s Dhoni. Dhoni’s success underlines that if the fans can have the trophies they want and the genuine respect for them, they don’t need a local to lead the team. Chennai has 4 IPL trophies on his shelf despite not playing for 2 seasons due to ban. Dhoni’s importance to team management is well known. There is also a perception that if he stops playing, he will lose a large part of the fanbase. So Dhoni is the last word in the team. In IPL, Dhoni is not only a player, but a brand, the uncontested Dhoni brand.
∙ The closer it gets, the farther it gets, the closer it gets
From the outside, Dhoni’s interaction with fans is complicated. He remains inaccessible to fans even as he declares that CSK has a place in his heart. Even a die-hard Dhoni fan cannot predict when Thala will be seen or what his next move will be. It should be seen that this unpredictable trait is creating another craze for him among his fans. With Dhoni on their lips and in their minds, they will wait for Thalaivan’s next move…
After Dhoni in CSK, Suresh Raina was the favorite of the fans. Chinnathala was dropped by the team last season. If not Mahia in the yellow jersey then who? I realized that it is not possible with Jadeja. Rituraj Gaikwad is next. The young star has a long way to go to become the crowd puller that is Dhoni. It will take time. If Dhoni stops playing this season and the team’s performance deteriorates, it will not be good for the CSK brand going forward. There is no doubt that Chennai will try to keep Dhoni with him even if he is no longer a player.
∙ Should you still rely on batting?
If Dhoni’s sixes at the age of 42 bring joy to the audience, what else is needed? Dhoni will also be happy with that. Get out at number eight like in the first match, bat to make the fans happy without playing more than ten balls and lead the team to victory. Dhoni has nothing more to prove and it is the responsibility of the rest of the team not to allow him to rely on his batting any longer. Fans also know that Dhoni, who has no cricket other than IPL, will not be able to play like he used to.
In 2022, he scored 232 runs from 14 matches at an average of 33.14. The strike rate was 123.40. In 2021, only 114 runs were scored in 16 matches. 16.28 Avg. The strike rate was just 106. Mahi last crossed 400 runs in IPL in 2019. Scored at an average of 83 runs. Also had a strike rate of 134.
Dhoni scored the most runs in the 2013 season when he scored 461 runs from 18 matches. Best strike rate that year too – 163. Played 235 matches in IPL career. Scored 4992 runs. Best score 84*. Batting average 39.31. Strike rate 135.32. Dhoni Charitam comes here. Whether Dhoni stops playing or not, the relationship between CSK and Dhoni may never be seen again in the IPL.
English Summary: IPL 2023, Is this M.S. Dhoni’s Swan Song? What is the Future of Chennai Super Kings