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Mahendra Singh Thala Dhoni: The Heart, Soul, Energy and the Character of Chennai Super Kings

Dhoni besides winning 130-matches for CSK (both IPL and CLT20) has led the franchise to four tittles and he is beyond just the captain of the side.

But Still I haven’t left behind”- Ms Dhoni after last year’s final.

Leave out the fans of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), not even a single person connected with the Indian Premier League can imagine the yellow side without Mahendra Singh Dhoni wearing the leadership cap. He wasn’t just the so-called captain but the source of the positive vibes a side could expect in all tense tournament.

On the eve of the tournament, when a short press release from the CSK team expressed that Ms Dhoni had handed the captaincy duties to a veteran of the franchiese, Ravindra Jadeja, ahead of the 15th season of the competition, it felt like the all the franchiese and the fans were depressed not to expect the “Number 7” coming out for toss in the upcoming season.

Well, perhaps, it’s an indication that the last bite in the (yellow) cherry is not too far for him in the contest. A little look at his leadership records of 121-wins in 204-games with a win percentage of around 59.60%, which is just 0.08% less from Rohit Sharma who is still has to have 75-more games under his belt to touch the Ms Dhoni.

What makes Dhoni different from others:

In a sense of looking at him outside of the team, one can understand Ms Dhoni didn’t only like to pen down those notes and strategies about the opponent players. Being the Indian captain and touring in parts of the world with continuous games, it was so tough for him to evaluate players; but he loves to go with his own gut instinct and that he always prefers to throw a ball and enjoy the interaction.

More than a national side, it’s hard to conduct any franchiese because of not having enough information about the nature of any domestic or overseas player of the team. But, Ms being Ms, always try to do something that one can hardly plan of.

The possible reason of giving Jadeja the duty:

It was just another normal afternoon for him to put a bombshell for the whole world to talk about; Just like he declared his decision of stepping down as Test captain after the end of the Boxing Day Test in 2014 in the middle of the series or from the white ball set-up just before the start of the 2017 home England series or retiring in a nationally celebrated evening, he did it again on 24th of March.

Even though it’s impossible to read out the computer brain of Ms Dhoni, the expected lining of this decision from being sensible is again being around Jadeja for this season and grooming him in the spot-light with few help from the outside; and to address the new faces, it won’t be surprising if he sits out in few games of the season.

The Art of making players from simple to star:

Being brief about the master-class of Dhoni’s captaincy, he always knows how to squeeze up the best part of any player. In an easy way, people point their finger in some cases to his lads saying that Dhoni had got the best Indian and CSK team in so many tournaments which is why he is so successful in the job.

I beg to differ politely. Something the resources from outside may felt easier to handle than its actual position. If anyone trusts that the 2007 T-20 world cup side looked strong for being a real contender for the cup, then, I got to say, that he is swimming in the pool of his own thought-process.

Just like that, there had been many CSK side that looked far from being able to qualify for the playoffs and most recently it was the last season in 2021 when not a single person kept Chennai in their list of four qualifies teams specially after their maiden defeat of reaching the top four spot in 2020. Well, they boosted to two steps in front to grab victory in the 2021 Trophy; their 4th in the competition.

The craft and skill of managing the bowlers:

If not being emotional, one must admit that no one could use those mediocre medium pacers in a style that Dhoni did over the years in the past. Just starting from the start of their season, in 2008, Chennai had Manpreet Gony, no one heard his name and after his treatment against Punjab in his first game could see him warming the benches in other teams.

Dhoni used him differently; the Chennai captain realized that Gony is kind of a swing bowler who loves bowling in the start and struggles in the death overs; M Gony ended the season with 17-wickets and posted his name for national selection.

Another example was Mohit Sharma, who was 24 by the time CSK roped him for IPL 2013. Once again, the onus was on the captain to apply the young-star in the right way; because Mohit was being hit all over the parks in the death, Dhoni used him early on to get the best of his slower balls and again like Gony, Mohit went on to win the purple cap in 2014.

Very recent example would be Deepak Chahar; Dhoni loves swing bowlers and Bhuvneshwar Kumar is one of the prime examples of it. In case of Chahar, he was already told in 2017 being with RPS, that CSK would run behind him for the 2018 auction. Well, most captains, uses a pacer 1-2 or max 3-overs at the start, whereas Dhoni went to another road and used to end Chahar’s spell in the 8th over.

Not only the young-stars, but when veteran Dwayne Bravo lost his mojo in the back end of his career, Dhoni decided to used Bravo in a certain way.

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Providing Trust and Belief to the Chennai Batters:

The best example that came to mind at the moment is Shane Watson. The Australian all-rounder was going through a rough time in 2019 with so such runs to cement his place. In other side, as Watson himself declared, he would have been left out of the playing eleven. Dhoni was something else; he kept Watson for the whole season and the later almost took them over the line in the finals even with a injured knee that was wet with blood.

Another example could be Ruturaj Gaikwad, who was having his own issues during the 2020 IPL season with covid at the start and then with his form. Dhoni too talked about not witnessing the kind of spark in the young-star but since then, in the 2021 season, he with the orange cap on the head, helped Chennai to record their fourth IPL trophy.

Mooen Ali too wasn’t finding his place in regular times in other franchise whereas coming to the yellow army, he straightway got his place in the team as Dhoni decided to use him at the number three position with applying his off-spin too.

Chennai adopted the Ranchi Boy:

When IPL was first recognized, the question was about the marquee players and unlike all other huge names, Ms Dhoni went to Chennai because of having no franchiese based on Ranchi. Since then, the whole Tamil Nadu just adopted him; the culture, nature, energy, heart, soul and the other words one could think of gets round their Thala; Ms Dhoni.

Whether it’s a final, or a playoffs or a league game, or it’s a practice match; when the “number seven” jersey enters in the ground, the whole Chennai and the fans yelled out in the famous name “Thala”. Spending almost a whole article on his captaincy only and not dissecting his middle order batting or keeping will frame it in way.

“Ms Dhoni’s has always been: ‘you guys enjoy it. I will take care of the tumultuous moments.” Ravichandran Ashwin, former CSK player spoke about Dhoni’s leadership in a Cricbuzz show “Ms puts the onus on himself and very often pulls the team out of the trouble.”

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The Lion has now left his throne for the others to follow and grab the spot; but make no mistake, no matter who sits on the Royal sit, the whole Chennai and its atmosphere will be run by one particular person; “Their own Thala Ms Dhoni.”

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