Dhoni, who has led the Chennai Super Kings to three titles and five runner-up finishes in the IPL’s 12 editions, will feature in the opening match on Saturday against the Mumbai Indians, the defending champions.
India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni may have signed on international duty but he will be at the heart of the action in the Indian Premier League – a tournament he helped inspire, and where he remains a towering figure. Dhoni, who led Chennai Super Kings have three titles and five runner-up finishes at the 12 edition of the IPL, will feature in the opening match on Saturday against Mumbai Indians, the defending champion.
The game comes more than a year after the last 39 years playing for India in the semi-finals of their loss to New Zealand in the World Cup in 2019.
After much speculation, the wicketkeeper-batsman has finally announced the end of 16 years of international career last month.
And without the pressure of having to play well to keep a place in the national team, Dhoni flamboyant expected to shine in the UAE, the home while the IPL as Indian battle rampant problem coronavirus.
“He is very fit and I believe he is working very hard on it. Plus he has stopped playing international cricket so there will be a little burden on her, “Saba Karim, another former India goalkeeper, told AFP.
“Global cricket still needs an icon like MS Dhoni to continue.”
starting with India captain Dhoni won the inaugural T20 World Cup title in 2007, a success that fueled the IPL – the most popular and richest league in world cricket – a year later.
“Dhoni played an important role in kick-starting the IPL because of the way he brings a different dimension to the shorter format of the game for the aggressive side with the willow,” said Karim.
“Also with his calm exterior behind the stumps.”
Dhoni once hailed as the best finisher in the world has played 190 IPL matches, scoring 4432 runs including 23 half-centuries.
An exemplary leader with a quick glovework, Dhoni has made the Chennai IPL franchise one of the most loved by nearly 200,000 people follow the team on the Twitter fan club.
‘Soul of Chennai’ –
Chennai chief executive Kasi Viswanathan says Dhoni remains key to the team’s plans and they expect him to keep playing till the 2022 edition.
The team has been under scrutiny after arriving in the UAE last month with two players testing positive for the coronavirus.
Senior batsman Suresh Raina and veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh later opted out of the competition.
“I swear if Dhoni pulls out of IPL, there’s no IPL for me this year!” a Twitter user wrote after the withdrawals.
Cricketer-turned-commentator Aakash Chopra said Dhoni is “the biggest strength of the team and the entire franchise is dependent on him”.
“He is the soul of Chennai Super Kings. As long as he is there, CSK’s heart keeps beating and they move forward. MS Dhoni, the player, and the captain has a great impact,” Chopra said on his YouTube show.
“Dhoni is going to rule the roost once again as a captain, as a batsman.”
Chennai and Dhoni were plunged into controversy in 2015 when the team was banned from the IPL for two years for match-fixing.
But Dhoni and his team — which includes many players aged over 35, including Australia’s Shane Watson and South African Imran Tahir — came back with a bang.
Labeled ‘Dad’s Army’ by the media, Chennai returned to lift the title in 2018 and establish themselves as one of the most consistent teams in IPL history.
“Dhoni is Chennai, Chennai is Dhoni. If Dhoni is doing well. Chennai is doing well,” veteran commentator Harsha Bhogle said on Cricbuzz.com.
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