It doesn’t matter in which stadium he is playing, when he comes out to bat, he is welcomed like a gladiator. Eagerly awaiting his arrival on the pitch, the crowd chant his name in unison, waves flashing.
Such is the aura of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who may have retired from international cricket but continues to light up the Indian Premier League (IPL) with his presence.
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At 41, Dhoni is as fit as any spring chicken. He has become more muscular, hits his shots with more authority, is still quick while running between the wickets, and strike-rate has not been an issue for him this season.
Still regarded as a great wicketkeeper, he continues his magic behind the stumps.
It all sounds like a fairy tale, doesn’t it?
IPL is back to its original module of Home and Away games, CSK is back at Chepauk and fans are enjoying ‘The Vintage Dhoni Show’ at almost every game. But they do not know when this person from Ranchi should resign.
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Ever since Dhoni announced his retirement from international cricket on 15 August 2020, there has been curiosity about ‘will this be his last season’.
That year he had a straight answer to this question – ‘Absolutely not.’
In 2021 he said, “Let’s see. There will be two more franchises, so you never know.
And last year, he expressed his desire to play in front of the Chennai crowd and promised to return as CSK captain in 2023.
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But what will be the situation in 2024? Will he make a comeback as a CSK player at the age of 42? These things are troubling CSK fans these days. Some players say ‘he should’, while some say ‘he won’t’.
After all, when it comes to Dhoni, one cannot be sure and can only speculate.
For IPL 2023, GeoCinema expert Sarandeep Singh believes that it all depends on Dhoni’s fitness. If he is good to go then he should play for CSK next year.
“If he is fit, he can play,” he said at a select media interaction organized by JioCinema. But when we talk about MS Dhoni, it is always his call. Because no one can tell better than him how he might be feeling or how his body will react. We have been watching him for the last 15 years and this season as well. We saw him in the last match against RCB, the way he took two catches. He ran from behind the wicket, took the catch and took the catch. He just takes the pressure on himself.”
The former India selector further said that Dhoni will definitely assess himself and see if he can contribute to the team.
“He’s one of the best we’ve ever had. So, it’s entirely up to him; if he feels he can contribute. It’s not just about playing but also about contributing You see the last game and the first one. Whenever his team needs him, he comes and hits some sixes or puts the score on the board.
“So it is a completely personal decision for Dhoni,” he added.
Dhoni’s performance in IPL 2023
The CSK skipper has batted in four innings so far and has scored 59 runs at a strike rate of 210.71 which is currently the third best in the ongoing season. SRH’s Heinrich Klaasen leads the charts with a strike rate of 236.36, followed by Nicholas Pooran – 216.92.
Dhoni’s highest score this season is an unbeaten 32 off just 17 balls against Rajasthan Royals, which included three sixes and a four.
CSK position on points table
With three wins and two losses, CSK are currently third on the points table with 6 points with a positive NRR of 0.265.