MS Dhoni will continue to play for CSK beyond 2022 season, says CEO Kasi Viswanathan

“No, I don’t think (this is going to be his last season). He will carry on,” CEO Viswanathan said.

Viswanathan confirmed that Dhoni won’t pick and choose games this term and will be a guiding force for the team.

Earlier, a CSK statement said: “MS Dhoni has decided to hand over the leadership of Chennai Super Kings and picked Ravindra Jadeja to lead the team. Jadeja, who has been an integral part of Chennai Super Kings since 2012, will only be the third player to lead CSK. Dhoni will continue to represent Chennai Super Kings this season and beyond.”

Dhoni stepping down as CSK captain marks the end of an era at one of the most successful franchises in the Indian Premier League.

Viswanathan said the decision was completely Dhoni’s call, taken two days before the start of this year’s IPL, with an eye to smooth transition. The four-time champions start their campaign against Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday.

“We have always respected the decision of MS. He has been a pillar of strength for us. He will continue to be a pillar of strength and he will guide Jaddu (Jadeja) and the other members of the team. He is expecting a smooth transition from him to Jaddu and that’s why he has taken the decision. As a captain and player, who has always cared for CSK, he must have taken the decision in the best interest of CSK,” Viswanathan said.

The franchise’s retention policy ahead of this year’s mega auction probably dropped a hint, Jadeja being retained for Rs 16 crore and Dhoni for Rs 12 crore. CSK officials revealed that this was also suggested by Dhoni.

Jadeja is one of the best all-rounders in the world at the moment if not the best and even at 33 years of age, he remains India’s fittest cricketer. Dhoni, 40, is in the twilight of his glorious career.

Dhoni became the CSK captain in 2008 and immediately struck a chord with the city. He gradually became Chennai’s ‘Thala’ and his relationship with CSK went way beyond an employee-employer association.

“I don’t know how the bond between him and Tamil Nadu and Chennai developed. In the early seasons of the IPL, he would come, he would go (out) on his motorbike. People took to him,” CSK’s de facto head and former BCCI president N Srinivasan told this paper a couple of years ago.

Dhoni didn’t have a very successful IPL with the bat last term, scoring 114 runs in 16 matches. But he guided the team to yet another title.

In November last year, with his retirement speculations doing the rounds, the former India captain had said this at a CSK felicitation programme: “I have always planned my cricket. My last ODI that I played in India was in Ranchi. Hopefully my last T20 will be in Chennai. Whether it’s next year or in five years’ time, I don’t know.”

Viswanathan also informed that Moeen Ali’s visa issues have been sorted out and the player has landed today. The spin-bowling all-rounder will undergo a three-day quarantine and will be available from CSK’s second game onwards.

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