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IPL 2024: Who will succeed MS Dhoni as CSK skipper from next season?

IPL 2024: Who will succeed MS Dhoni as CSK skipper from next season? Will it be MS Dhoni's last season with Chennai Super Kings?


IPL 2023_ MS Dhoni has won five IPL trophies as captain for CSK; CSK won IPL 2023_ Walking wicket (Images_ ©IPL_Twitter)
IPL 2024: MS Dhoni likely to captain CSK for the last time? (Images: ©IPL/Twitter)

IPL 2024 is likely to be the last season for Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni unless Captain Cool decides to play another season. However, as per reports, speculations are rife that a succession plan is already on, with Dhoni playing his last IPL season as captain-cum-player. Chennai Super Kings CEO Kasi Viswanathan has been quoted as saying that the franchise owner N Srinivasan has given the job of finding Dhoni’s successor to the captain and coach Stephen Fleming. 


It may be recalled that Ravindra Jadeja was appointed captain in IPL 2022, but he withdrew from the role mid-way through the tournament, with Dhoni taking over. So, will the CSK team management again punt on Jadeja after the Southpaw’s heroics saw the team win their fifth IPL title last season?


First, it can be agreed that the CSK captaincy job will be handed over to an India cricketer, and not to an overseas player. Over the years, CSK's core has mostly revolved around India players, with foreign players just filling up the gaps. Overseas cricketers have never been in the race to succeed Dhoni. This time as well, the successor will be chosen among the India nucleus.



So, who could succeed Dhoni if only India players in contest for the role?

Ruturaj Gaikwad can be considered as the frontrunner for the job and is likely to succeed Dhoni if he keeps scoring runs aplenty and doing his primary job of an opener. Notably, Gaikwad has done it exceedingly well so far. He scored 590 runs at an average of 42.14 with a strike rate of 147.50 in 16 games last season. He has been the most consistent batter for CSK in the last few seasons.

 

But what about his captaincy experience? Recently, Gaikwad led a young India team to a gold medal finish in the 2022 Asian Games. He also leads the Maharashtra team in T20 and List A cricket. He also led Puneri Bappa in the inaugural Maharashtra Premier League last season. Additionally, he has repeatedly been appointed as the vice-captain of India’s limited-overs side in the absence of senior players. The national selectors see a leader in Ruturaj and so could Dhoni and Fleming.


Having played under Dhoni for the last four years, Ruturaj would have picked a few leadership traits from Captain Cool and could lead the franchise from the next season. He has a calm personality and that is reflected in his batting. He is never in rush, plays according to the situation, and focuses on the basics. 


Hence, CSK may just bet on the 27-year-old Ruturaj as he has age on his side to lead CSK for five to seven season to come. He can bring stability to the team post a change in leadership. 



But Jadeja could still win the race

With Jadeja-Dhoni's relationship back to normal after reports of a rift between them in IPL 2022, Ravindra Jadeja could once again be the front-runner for the role. After taking CSK to their fifth IPL title from the jaws of defeat last year, Jadeja’s stock has risen, and the team management may still go back to Jadeja as captain.  He has had the experience of playing in CSK for many years, he knows the team well, its operations and the management. Jadeja is 35 and has a few years of cricket left in him to not only serve CSK as an all-rounder, but possibly as a future captain.

 

However, never count out Dhoni himself…

You can never bet on Dhoni’s next move. He might just give himself another season to come back and play another season of the IPL. His fitness has improved for the better. Moreover, videos of him smashing sixes during CSK practice ahead of the IPL 2024 seasons show the Dhoni still has the hunger to play as a batter-cum-captain of CSK. Or, will CSK finally look for a successor?


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