One of the biggest hallmarks of MS Dhoni’s captaincy has been his backing a player to the hilt and bringing out the desired performances in either international cricket or the IPL.
The performance of a player on the field is shaped by many factors like various situations and conditions. But off the field, irrespective of whether the players had a good or bad day on the field, the backing and sense of belonging from a captain make a whole lot of difference.
In IPL 2023, shortly after leading Chennai Super Kings to a seven-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians through a sparkling 19-ball fifty, Ajinkya Rahane had said he was encouraged by Dhoni to be just himself with the bat.
Just after that game ended, Dhoni had stated that Chennai believes in the abilities of fast bowler Tushar Deshpande, who took out Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma with a beautiful delivery that held its line to crash into the stumps and later on, dismissed Tim David with an off-cutter.
Kedar Jadhav, who spent three seasons under Dhoni’s leadership at Chennai, believes the environment created by the talismanic leader during the competition plays a crucial role in always keeping the confidence of the players high.
“Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a type of captain who gives a long rope to his players. He backs the players and creates an environment in such a manner that the confidence of the players always remains high. He also gives the players opportunities in such positions that the player in question will perform eight or nine times out of ten chances.”
“Dhoni will do whatever he has in his power to do what all is needed for a player playing under his leadership. It is a very big blessing for all the players who have played under MS Dhoni and then build their fruitful careers under MS Dhoni’s captainship,” said Jadhav while replying to a question from Media in a virtual interaction organized by JioCinema, where he’s seen as an IPL expert.
With many speculating that IPL 2023 could be Dhoni’s last season as a player for Chennai, Jadhav agreed with the same. “CSK fans will definitely not be ready (for Dhoni’s retirement) and neither were the Indian fans ready when he announced his international retirement (in August 2020). But it is the truth of every cricketer’s life and I feel this will be MS Dhoni’s last year in the IPL for CSK. Moreover, he will be 42 years old in one-two month’s time.”
Jadhav, who played 73 ODIs for India apart from nine T20Is, feels Dhoni is ideally suited to provide finishing touches and wants other batters to rally around him. “As much as I know of Dhoni if he knows that he is not going to play (in the IPL) for too long, he makes another player ready in his place and that’s what must be happening.”
“I think his strength of finishing games lies in the last two-three overs and so he is best suited there. He knows his strengths and is aware of how many deliveries he needs to face to win a game. There are ten players apart from him too so we can’t expect Dhoni alone to win it every single time. Even (Ravindra) Jadeja and (Ambati) Rayudu can finish games too.”
Jadhav signed off by saying opener Ruturaj Gaikwad could be the perfect fit as Chennai’s captain once Dhoni retires from playing in the IPL. “Ruturaj Gaikwad can be the future CSK captain once Dhoni retires. Ben Stokes is also a contender alongside (Ravindra) Jadeja. But for that, Stokes needs to perform well this season for CSK and also you have an issue with availability. So I think Ruturaj Gaikwad is the best option as CSK captain after Dhoni.”