IPL 2022: Trust Dhoni to spring a surprise & pass baton
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is known to spring surprises. On Thursday, almost 48 hours before Chennai Super Kings launch their title defence against Kolkata Knight Riders in the 15th edition of the IPL at the Wankhede in Mumbai, he decided to step down, handing the leadership mantle to Ravindra Jadeja.
There was no hint of quitting even a day earlier at the defending champions’ jersey launch at the Trident, Nariman Point. Dhoni, who has led the team since the IPL’s first season in 2008, first informed Sundar Raman, a former BCCI honcho who is now employed with CSK as a consultant, and CEO Kasi Viswanathan around 10.30am, after breakfast.
Hectic parleys followed and N. Srinivasan, the former BCCI president and vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements, the company which owns the franchise, was put on a conference call around noon where Dhoni was among the select participants.
It was agreed that Jadeja would be the captain, and Dhoni, 40, would play as a wicketkeeper-batsman, fitness permitting. Sources told The Telegraph that Dhoni also reiterated his promise to play his last match for CSK in Chennai next season during the conference call.
Dhoni later broke the news at the team meeting before the squad left for training. Jadeja, who has been with the franchise since 2012, will become the third player to lead CSK after Dhoni and Suresh Raina.
In a statement around 2.30pm, the franchise said that “Dhoni will continue to represent Chennai Super Kings this season and beyond”.
Jadeja said Dhoni would be his “go-to person” in a crisis.
“Feeling good. At the same time, I also need to fill in big boots like Mahi bhai, (he) has already set the big legacy so I need to carry (that) forward. I don’t need to worry too much because he is here so whenever I have a question to ask, I’ll definitely go to him. He’ll be my go-to person. He was and still he is today, so I’m not worried too much, ” he said in a video uploaded on Twitter by the franchise.
There has been speculation over Dhoni’s future for long. He always wanted the leadership transition to be smooth. He first wished to relinquish captaincy in 2018 after CSK had won their third IPL title. Raina was his preferred choice as skipper but the suggestion was shot down by the team management.
“Yes, it was a bit of a surprise but at the same time we respect his decision. He has been thinking about it for sometime. He felt it was the right time to hand over the captaincy to Jaddu. He always has the franchise’s interests in mind,” Viswanathan told The Telegraph.
Jadeja was always in the reckoning and had been spoken to by the team management. The succession plan had been put in place by Dhoni in consultation with Srinivasan after the IPL, last year itself.
But it was the timing that stumped all. Dhoni had left even his teammates in a daze with his decision to quit Test cricket after the drawn third Test against Australia in Melbourne in December 2014. Then in January 2017, he suddenly stepped down as ODI and T20I skipper to give Virat Kohli enough time to prepare for 2019 World Cup.
In quitting CSK captaincy, he kept that surprise element alive.