Speculations regarding Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement from the cash-rich league has been the most talked about issue since the beginning of the IPL 2023 and many people reckoned that this edition could mark his final appearance in the tournament.
Under Dhoni’s leadership, CSK clinched their fifth record-equalling fifty IPL title at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Monday night. It was for the first time in the history of the cash-rich league that a final was rescheduled to the reserve day owing to heavy rain.
In the rain affected summit clash, the Yellow Brigade were set a revised target of 171 in 15 overs after hosts Gujarat Titans rode a quickfire cameo of 96 by middle-order batter Sai Sudharsan and a half-century by opener Wriddhiman Saha to post a challenging 214/4 in 20 overs.
CSK looked in a bit of trouble when they needed 13 from the final six balls and Gujarat pacer Mohit Sharma bowled four superb deliveries, conceding just three runs before Ravindra Jadeja hammered a six and a four off the final two deliveries to seal a dramatic win for CSK.
After the thrilling win, when the CSK skipper came up for a chat at the post-match presentation, Harsha Bhogle did not waste any time and jumped right to the main question. “We meet again. We meet again like we so often do after these title wins. Should I ask you something or are you going to tell me something anyway?”
To which, Dhoni replied, “it’s better if you ask and then I reply.”
Bhogle said: “I asked you when you last won a trophy, about the legacy you leave behind in CSK. You said ‘I haven’t left it behind yet.”
Dhoni said, “Looking for an answer? Circumstantially if you see, this is the best time to announce my retirement. But the amount of love and affection I have been shown wherever I have been this year, the easy thing would be for me to say ‘Thank you very much’, but the tough thing for me is to work hard for another 9 months and come back and play at least 1 more season of IPL. A lot depends on the body, I have 6-7 months to decide. It will be more like a gift from my side, it’s not easy for me but that’s a gift.”
Dhoni openly acknowledged that he witnessed tears in his eyes and was emotinal after hearing the crowd chant his name during the inaugural match of the 2023 season against Gujaray at the same venue.
“You do get emotional simply because it’s the last part of my career, it started over here and the first game when I walked down everyone was chanting my name. My eyes were full of water and I just stood there in the dugout for a while. I realised I want to enjoy this. It was the same thing in Chennai, it was my last game over there but it will be good to come back and play whatever I can. I think they love me for what I am, they love that I am so grounded, I don’t try to portray something I’m not. Just keep it simple,” he added.
Meanwhile, the charismatic CSK skipper also achieved a significant milestone by becoming the only cricketer to feature in 250 IPL games. Moreover, he has led the Chennai Super Kings in an impressive 10 IPL finals, emerging victorious in five of those.
Notably in 2017, while representing the Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS), Dhoni had also competed in that year’s IPL final.