IPL 2021 – Will it be MS Dhoni’s last IPL? CSK CEO doesn’t think so


Also says Ravindra Jadeja is “taking a look good” at training on return from his thumb injury

MS Dhoni is likely to remain a part of the Chennai Super Kings set-up at IPL 2022, according to the franchise’s CEO, Kasi Viswanathan. Viswanathan also confirmed that allrounder Ravindra Jadeja, who left India’s tour of Australia early with a broken thumb and hasn’t played since then, is “taking a look good”.

“I don’t believe it’s going to be his last year. This is my personal view and I don’t believe we are taking a look at anybody now,” Viswanathan told the Indian Express.

This isn’t the first time Viswanathan has come out with one of these remark. With doubts over Dhoni’s future in the game swirling ever since the end of the 2019 World Cup, he had said final August, “We will be able to expect MS Dhoni to be a part of both [IPL 2020 and 2021] and probably for even the next year – 2022.”

Four days later, Dhoni retired from international cricket, and the Super Kings went on to have a woeful run at the 2020 IPL, finishing seventh out of eight teams in the UAE. Dhoni himself managed only 200 runs from 12 innings at a strike rate of 116.27 in the tournament. Questions of an entire overtake of the Super Kings set-up naturally followed, prompting the question to be put to Viswanathan.

On the topic of Jadeja, who had fractured his left thumb all the way through India’s epic draw in the New Year’s Test in Sydney, Viswanathan said that while he might not have played cricket since that game, he has been training with the team and they’re hopeful of him being fully match fit for their opening game, against Delhi Capitals on April 10. “See, Jadeja has been cleared [to play] by the NCA [National Cricket Academy],” he said. “He has joined our team for practice. He’s taking a look good. He’s working tough. And we hope that he’s going to be fully fit by the point the IPL starts.”

Viswanathan also said the Super Kings’ decision to pick out Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara at the auction – his first IPL gig since 2014 – was once partly down to wanting to “honour him” following his fine showing in Australia, but also as a result of his “calibre” as a batsman. The tender – at his base price of INR 50 lakh (USD 69,000 approx.) – drew attention provided the tempo and style of his batting: his T20 strike rate stands at 109.35.

“We also wanted to honour him, that’s for certain. But at the same time, I will tell you one object, a person of his calibre with such good mastery, he can adapt to any format,” Viswanathan said. “That is our view. He is usually a player who can contribute a lot to CSK. That is what we felt and that’s the reason why we picked him.

“He’s going to certainly have a role to play, but I will not say if he’s going to play the first game or the second one game.”

The Super Kings’ top officials throwing their weight in the back of Dhoni isn’t new. Final year, N Srinivasan, the vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements, owners of the Super Kings, had also indicated that Dhoni would be retained at the next mega auction, at the time scheduled for the lead-up to the 2021 edition. As a part of the fallout of the pandemic, that has now been postponed by a year, and it remains to be seen if Srinivasan’s opinion stands then.

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