Former Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is probably one of the legends of the game who is still taking part in the IPL. His contribution to the league and to his team Chennai Super Kings in particular is second to no one. He is one of the most successful captains ever in the history of the IPL. Apart from the 2020 edition of the tournament he has led CSK to playoffs in all the other editions. He has won three IPL titles in 2010, 2011, and 2018 respectively along with two Champions League T20 titles for the same franchise.
But since his retirement from international cricket, his form has dipped a bit, and was seen struggling on the cricket field with fitness issues. This is one thing that we normally don’t associate with MS Dhoni. Due to all these factors, there were huge speculations that IPL 2021 will be MS Dhoni’s last IPL season. There will be a mega auction after this IPL. Two new teams will be added after this year, and players will be picked in the mega auction for a prolonged period. Does Dhoni have 2-3 years of IPL cricket left in his tank? Will he continue to play for CSK from IPL 2022? Or will he make way for someone else? Let’s find out.
MS Dhoni’s contribution to IPL is beyond words. He is undoubtedly the most successful captain in the history of the IPL. He has led CSK to playoffs in all seasons except for 2020. He has also won three titles with them in this time span. Moreover, he also has won two champions league T20 titles for CSK. Apart from these countless silverware that he possesses, he has graced the IPL with some ferocious hitting and lightning stumpings. To say that his name is synonymous with Chennai Super Kings would be an understatement.
CSK fans fondly call him ‘Thala’ which means a leader or boss. This is a title that is usually given to most loved politicians or film stars. That itself shows their love towards their captain. This is quite obvious as he is the only player to have led CSK in all seasons. While all other franchises are chopping and changing their captains, CSK has had a constant strong leader at their helm from 2008 onwards.
Will MS Dhoni play IPL 2022? This is the most talked-about topic related to IPL recently. As of now, we don’t have any official confirmation regarding the same. But the only positive for Dhoni fans is that CSK CEO Kasi Visvanathan in one of his interviews hinted that Dhoni may play for CSK in 2022 also. But this is not validated or confirmed by the club nor Dhoni officially. His captaincy is never in doubt, the factors that might turn up against him are his current form, age factor, and the mega auctions at the end of IPL 2021. While fitness and form are something that he can definitely improve the situation with mega auction is not one of them.
He may play IPL 2022. But with mega auction in place, the question is not just about IPL 2022. The question is will he be able to sustain for a longer period of at least 3-4 years from 2022. If the teams are picked after IPL 2021 auction for a period of more than 3 years, then CSK will have to spend 15 crores to retain MS Dhoni. And if he just plays in the 2022 season, that is a sheer waste of money. This may prompt Dhoni more than anyone to hung up his boots post-2021 season.
Ruturaj Gaikwad is someone in the CSK camp that Dhoni rates so highly. He recently made his T20I debut for India. Undoubtedly, he is the future of CSK. In one of his interviews, he was asked about the chances of MS Dhoni playing in IPL 2022. He replied that he is totally unaware of the answer to that question. He added that everything is unpredictable with MS Dhoni. He makes decisions so quickly and we will only get to know that when it’s been made. He explained it with the example of MS Dhoni’s retirement from international cricket.
“On that day, we were 10-12 people in Chennai practicing just before leaving Dubai. Around 6:30 pm our practice got over and at 7:00 we all, including Mahi Bhai, sat for dinner. And suddenly someone told me on Instagram that Mahi Bhai had announced his retirement! There was no vibe that something like that was going to happen, no discussions, no one knew anything at all. So, you never know with him. Anything can happen.”
CSK CEO Kasi Viswanathan who shares a close bond with MS Dhoni on and off the field hinted that the veteran may turn up for the franchise once more in 2022.
“I don’t think it is going to be his final year. This is my personal view, and I don’t think we are looking at anybody now. We can expect MS Dhoni to be part of both [IPL 2020 and 2021] and probably for even the next year – 2022.”
“He can continue for another one or two years with CSK. He is fully fit, trains a lot. Don’t see any reason why he should stop. As far we are concerned, we are happy with what he is doing for CSK. It is not just about his captaincy or the fact that he is the guide or a leader as the most experienced player. We feel he is still good and brings value as a player to the side. He has been a finisher and is doing that for us”, he added.
Suresh Raina who is the CSK vice-captain in his recent interview clarified that he doesn’t have any clue regarding Dhoni’s retirement. He further added that if Dhoni decides to retire from IPL, he also will no longer take further part in the competition. Raina, who is fondly called ‘Chinna Thala’ by the CSK fans announced his retirement from international cricket on the same day Dhoni decided to hang his boots. He added that he wouldn’t mind repeating that again in the IPL as well.
“I have four-five years left in me. We have the IPL this year, and then two more teams next year. But I think I’ll play only for CSK till I play. I hope we do well this year,” Raina told News 24 Sports.
“If Dhoni bhai doesn’t play next season, I too won’t play. We’ve been playing since 2008 (for CSK) … if we win this year then I’ll convince him to play next year too… “I’ll try my best. If he will not play, then I don’t think I will play for any IPL team.”
MS Dhoni is an incomparable captain when it comes to the IPL. No player has captained a T20 team more than MS Dhoni had done for CSK. He also boasts of a win percentage of 59.27% in the IPL.
MS Dhoni is one of the greatest leaders the game has ever seen. He on most occasions follows his instincts and keeps his approach really simple. He usually stays away from huge discussions and plannings and tries to do the simple things right. In that process, he has managed to achieve great heights. One of the biggest lessons from Dhoni’s leadership is to always trust the process. When you enjoy the process, success follows.
The other notable characteristic in Dhoni the leader is his ability to remain calm under pressure. He treats success and failure equally and cannot be seen as so happy over a positive result nor so sad over a negative result. This nature of his is appreciated by people all around the globe and provides a platform for the players in and around the team to perform without pressure as they have their captain backing them through the thick and thin.
The conclusion is that MS Dhoni is most likely to play in IPL 2022 as no official confirmation has been made till now by the player himself nor the franchise regarding his unavailability for the 2022 season.
As of now, no official statement has been made by MS Dhoni nor CSK regarding his unavailability for the IPL 2022 season. So, the tentative answer for this query is a ‘YES’. As of now, he will take part in IPL 2022.
As per the reports, the eight original teams in IPL 2022 would be allowed to retain a maximum of four players each. The teams can either retain three Indian players and one overseas player or two Indian players and two overseas players. In that case, CSK will retain MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina provided both Raina and Dhoni are available. For the overseas slot, they have two options Faf du Plessis and Sam Curran. But taking into account the all-around capabilities Sam Curran may get the nod for the fourth spot.
If Dhoni is available for selection, definitely yes. He is their icon player and is one of the most successful captains to have ever played the game. The entire success of CSK can be credited to MS Dhoni alone. No player in the history of IPL has had an impact on a single franchise like MS Dhoni had with CSK. So definitely yes, he will be retained.
If we are talking about the value, aura, and knowledge that MSD brings to the table, he is irreplaceable. But as we say all good things should come to an end. Even the great MS Dhoni will have to hang up his boots for CSK one day. In that case, CSK will have to find out a suitable captain and keeper. For captaincy, they may look into foreign players, preferable Williamson if SRH retains Rashid and Warner for the 2 overseas slots. Otherwise, the baton will fall in the hands of Sir Ravindra Jadeja.
For the keepers’ slot, they may look to get the services of Ishan Kishan (if he is not retained by Mumbai Indians) or any local or top international keepers (like Quinton de Kock).