TT Epaper
The Telegraph
TT Photogallery
 
CIMA Gallary

‘MS has been unbelievable and CSK is indebted to him’

We have structures in place: top official
India and Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Calcutta: An absolute highlight of the ongoing IPL is that both franchises under the scanner, the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and the Rajasthan Royals, have largely been very impressive.

It’s remarkable that the off-field pressures haven’t got to the Mahendra Singh Dhonis and the Shane Watsons.

Nobody from the CSK hierarchy has spoken after the franchise took a massive hit during the closing stages of IPL VI, last year.

On Monday evening, an exception was made when a very senior member of the management spoke to The Telegraph for around 45 minutes at the ITC Sonar.

The top CSK official, however, declined to be identified as the Supreme Court has ordered an investigation which will cover IPL matters.

There could be “legal implications.”

Excerpts...

Mood within the franchise...

It’s good... The management has made it clear that the players should focus on cricket and to leave the rest to us.

Message from the management...

‘We’re there to protect you, so don’t worry’... The management is convinced that the players have done no wrong. However, if it’s proved that somebody did something improper, then he’ll have to face the consequences. We’re clear where each one of us stands.

Response from the players...

It couldn’t have been better, not at a time when CSK keeps figuring in the headlines (in a negative way).

Players being under pressure...

Not from the management’s side. Obviously, we want the franchise to do well, but we haven’t put anybody under pressure. Over a period, we certainly expect consistency. At the same time, we realise that T20 is rather like a lottery and there’s a big element of hit-and-miss.

Role played by captain Dhoni...

MS has been unbelievable and CSK is indebted to him. He has done more than his share to ensure the players don’t get distracted. We couldn’t have hoped for a better leader.

Dhoni being an employee of India Cements, which owns CSK...

But so are 44 other cricketers, all full-time employees of the organisation. Rahul Dravid, for example, joined India Cements in 1994. The organisation began enrolling cricketers in 1964, but nobody said anything till the events of last May.

If the franchise is determined to prove a point...

Absolutely... Don’t you see our determination? MS and his players believe that, as cricketers, they’ve got to give an answer on the field. We don’t have a formal theme, but something is definitely driving the players. Not for nothing is CSK the IPL’s most successful franchise.

Calling the shots in cricket matters...

MS and Flem (coach Stephen Fleming), nobody else. The management has never interfered, nor will it in the future. MS and Flem have a free hand. You can check with them or check with the others.

Administrative decisions...

They’re taken by Kasi Viswanathan, the India Cements’ general manager, cricket. He’s the team manager, but doesn’t have the right to interfere in selection matters. Some may wish to believe otherwise, but we have structures in place. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have been successful.

Role played by Narayanswamy Srinivasan, the India Cements’ vice-chairman and managing director, who is currently effectively suspended as the Board president (by the Supreme Court)...

Mr Srinivasan hosts a dinner before the start of every IPL, where he interacts with the CSK players and the support staff. This time, that dinner was hosted in Abu Dhabi... That apart, Mr Srinivasan’s practice is to watch a few matches. He went to Ranchi last week as his grandchildren wanted to see a match after the start of their summer vacation.

Srinivasan and 12 others to be probed by the Supreme Court-appointed Justice Mukul Mudgal committee...

The truth will come out, let the law take its course.

Gurunath Meiyappan, Srinivasan’s son-in-law, having put CSK in more than a spot of trouble...

Where we are concerned, right now, there are allegations only. Let the committee investigate, let them be proved... However, I must emphasise that Meiyappan didn’t interfere in cricket matters. You know MS... Is he the type to tolerate or encourage interference from anybody?

Meiyappan, who is out on bail, having projected himself as the Team Principal...

Whatever the impression created, for CSK, Meiyappan wasn’t the Team Principal. I may add that in the first season of the IPL, in 2008, just about everybody (associated with a franchise) was given accreditation with access to privileged areas. Perhaps, in the second season as well.

Embarrassment caused to CSK...

A lot of people have been hurt... I don’t wish to get into family matters, but what’s particularly painful is that MS has been dragged into all this... He should have been kept out... We suspect at least one former president of the Board is involved in whatever is happening.

Closing thoughts...

I do believe that, as a franchise, CSK hasn’t done anything wrong. If, in a court of law, it’s proved otherwise, then we’ll have to respect and accept whatever is handed out. But don’t hang CSK on the basis of allegations.