Will MS Dhoni wear the Chennai Super Kings shirt next season, leading the franchise once again as captain? The question has kept every cricket fan guessing, with the ‘Thala’ refusing to confirm whether he plans to play beyond this season or not. As the Chennai Super Kings qualified for their 12th playoff in 14 seasons, the question over his future beyond the IPL 2023 campaign remains unanswered. Though in the previous seasons, Dhoni himself came forward to give an update about his plans. But, there has been no such update from the 41-year-old this season yet.
Despite not being the prolific finisher he has been for the most part of his career, Dhoni has done enough with the bat to remain a key player for CSK. His captaincy and wicket-keeping skills still remain unmatched but even as a player, Dhoni has been good enough to produce a few cameos, batting low down the order.
But does that mean Dhoni will continue to play for CSK next season? We take a look at certain ‘hints’ that have emerged this season.
Stephen Fleming On MS Dhoni’s Future:
The CSK coach revealed in a press conference that Dhoni has given ‘no indication’ that he plans to retire after this season. “Dhoni hasn’t indicated anything this as the last season”, Fleming had said after a match against Punjab Kings. If Dhoni has actually not indicated anything to the management, a decision might not have been made yet.
The Retort To Danny Morrison:
Commentator and presenter Danny Morrison was quick to jump the gun as CSK took on Lucknow Super Giants. As Morrison spoke of Dhoni’s “swansong”, the 41-year-old responded saying: “You have decided it is my last IPL, not me.” Once again, hinting that he hasn’t given the ‘retirement decision’ as serious a thought as the world thinks.
The ‘Last Phase Of Career’ Admission:
After a match against SunRisers Hyderabad at home, Dhoni admitted that it is the last phase of his career. Though he didn’t define what exactly he meant by the term ‘last phase’, fans’ heartbeats certainly went up with the CSK skipper’s admission.
Dhoni said, “All said and done, it’s the last phase of my career, however long I play. After two years, the fans have had the opportunity to come here and watch, feels good to be here. Crowd has given us a lot of love and affection.”
The comment does indicate that the end of Dhoni’s playing career is near, but that doesn’t mean this is the final year.
Farewells At Every Away Game:
No matter where CSK have played this season, almost every single match has been like a home game for them. Fans have been painting every venue in yellow whenever CSK have come for a game.
After a match against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens, Dhoni said that fans are giving him farewell.
“I will just say thanks for the support, they came in big numbers. Most of these guys will come in a KKR jersey next time. They are trying to give me a farewell, so thanks a lot to the crowd,” Dhoni said in the post-match presentation.
Fans do seem to be believing that this is Dhoni’s final year in the IPL. But, the CSK skipper stayed away from confirming their belief.
Lap Of Honour At Chepauk:
After CSK’s last home game in the league campaign, the players, led by Dhoni, gave a lap of honour in which the skipper was seen throwing away tennis balls as goodies for fans. He also clicked pictures with fans and staff while also giving autographs. With Chennai’s progression to the playoffs not confirmed, Dhoni didn’t miss out on the opportunity to thank his fans.
Many construed the ‘lap of honour’ as a big hint from Dhoni and CSK that Thala’s time in the team is coming to an end. But, the decision seems to have revolved more around CSK thanking the team for their support than something that was centered around Dhoni.
Knowing the sort of character MS Dhoni is, he remains one of the most difficult people to predict. The 41-year-old continues to hold the big decision over his future close to his heart. How one conceives the ‘hints’ that have emerged this season, is up to the individual’s discretion.
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