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CSK captaincy change: Behind the scenes

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CSK captaincy change: Chennai Super Kings (CSK) has announced a major change in their squad. MS Dhoni has handed over the captaincy to Ravindra Jadeja.

Behind the scenes

“I fully support the captain’s decision.” That was N Srinivasan. Was the CSK management surprised by MS Dhoni’s decision, like everyone else in the outside world? Were there prior discussions on the captaincy issue? Whose choice was Ravindra Jadeja?

he boss of Chennai Super Kings would not wish to dwell further into Dhoni’s sudden decision to relinquish captaincy just two days before the start of a new Indian Premier League (IPL) season, but he said he understood it. “I back the call,” Srinivasan reiterated during a chat with Cricbuzz on Thursday (March 24) evening.

Dhoni, reasonably enough, was contemplating giving up the captaincy for some time but the CSK insiders say they were taken by surprise when the most successful IPL captain revealed his mind before a couple of management officials on Thursday morning. Around 10.30 AM, there was a call from the Super Kings team hotel in Mumbai to the Chennai office of Srinivasan with a request that Dhoni would want to speak to him. Srinivasan was busy at that time.

Dhoni, CEO Kasi Viswanathan and Sundar Raman, who is a consultant for the Chennai franchise, waited for the return call which apparently came only after half past noon when Dhoni conveyed his decision to the CSK chief. People close to him say Srinivasan too was taken aback initially but at the end of the call, he understood it. The call lasted for about 10 minutes.

The choice of Jadeja was Dhoni’s and he is understood to have told the management that he would guide the all-rounder, who it the peak of his career. Dhoni explained that at 40, he did not see himself playing for too many more years and he felt the vice-captains do not exactly mean much in the IPL setups. The discussions ended there.

“Discussions? When were there ever big discussions with Dhoni? He decides and we agree. Nothing wrong, no one can disagree with him. He felt that the vice-captains don’t take responsibilities. He said if it happens when I am there the changeover will be smooth. He said he is 40 and can’t play forever. The management always backed him to the hilt, why will it not back him now,” a franchise insider told Cricbuzz.

Dhoni was always considered the undisputed leader of CSK and Srinivasan himself often said ‘Dhoni is CSK and CSK is Dhoni’. However, the leadership issue was raised a few times in the past. Dhoni is believed to have suggested a change after the 2018 title triumph as well as on odd occasions last year. But the management was firm that Dhoni should continue. They were apprehensive that he might announce stepping down immediately after winning the IPL last October in Dubai. They were relieved that he did not.

Dhoni was involved in the planning for the season from the very beginning. He was constantly in touch with those who were at the CSK table during last month’s mega auction. Before the auction, he is understood to have attended a pre-auction meeting but some say the meeting did not last too long. “We will take a call after the first round of the auction,” Dhoni is believed to have told the CSK officials.

On the face of it the decision appears sudden but different franchise insiders Cricbuzz spoke to reveal that at the coaches level some talk was going on about the leadership change in the Chennai team. Even during recent India-Sri Lanka series, hints were dropped that the CSK captaincy could come Jadeja’s way sooner than later. And most prominently, Sunil Gavaskar told a television programme 24 hours earlier that Jadeja is ready to take over.

“The way Ravindra Jadeja has matured as a player over the last few years, the way he is making the adjustment as far as his game is concerned and the way he reads match situations has been absolutely fantastic. If in the odd game MS Dhoni decides to take a break, I won’t be surprised if the mantle of captaincy will be handed over to Jadeja,” Gavaskar had told Star Sports.

Asked if it was his information, premonition or a hunch, Gavaskar said he is not surprised but did not expect it. “Dhoni is 40 and I expected him to take an odd break once in a while and give the captaincy band to Jadeja,” the former India captain told Cricbuzz.

Before the call ended, Srinivasan asked Dhoni about his future plans as a player assuming that he is available for the full season this year. Dhoni’s reply apparently was that he will stick around as a player and reiterated his famous public announcement that he will hang his shoes only in Chennai. “Our understanding is he will play for one or two years more, take occasional breaks and finally settle as a mentor,” said the franchise insider said, summing up the turn of events in the Chennai Super Kings camp on the day. © Cricbuzz

MS Dhoni stepped down as Chennai Super Kings (CSK) captain on Thursday and now Ravindra Jadeja will be leading the franchise. MS Dhoni has passed over captaincy duties to Ravindra Jadeja ahead of IPL 2022. Dhoni was CSK captain since the inception of IPL 2008. The appointment of Ravindra Jadeja’s marks the first change in captaincy in the franchise.

Posted in Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2022

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