MS Dhoni is likely to remain part of the Chennai Super Kings set-up at IPL 2022, according to the franchise's CEO, Kasi Viswanathan. Viswanathan also confirmed that allrounder Ravindra Jadeja, who left India's tour of Australia early with a broken thumb and hasn't played since then, is "looking good".
"I don't think it is going to be his final year. This is my personal view and I don't think we are looking at anybody now," Viswanathan told the Indian Express.
This is not the first time Viswanathan has come out with such a statement. With doubts over Dhoni's future in the game swirling ever since the end of the 2019 World Cup, he had said last August, "We can expect MS Dhoni to be part of both [IPL 2020 and 2021] and probably for even the next year - 2022."
Four days later, Dhoni retired from international cricket, and the Super Kings went on to have a woeful run at the 2020 IPL, finishing seventh out of eight teams in the UAE. Dhoni himself managed only 200 runs from 12 innings at a strike rate of 116.27 in the tournament. Questions of a complete overhaul of the Super Kings set-up naturally followed, prompting the question to be put to Viswanathan.
On the topic of Jadeja, who had fractured his left thumb during India's epic draw in the New Year's Test in Sydney, Viswanathan said that while he might not have played cricket since that game, he has been training with the team and they are hopeful of him being fully match fit for their opening game, against Delhi Capitals on April 10. "See, Jadeja has been cleared [to play] by the NCA [National Cricket Academy]," he said. "He has joined our team for practice. He is looking good. He is working hard. And we are hoping that he will be fully fit by the time the IPL starts."
Viswanathan also said the Super Kings' decision to pick Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara at the auction - his first IPL gig since 2014 - was partly down to wanting to "honour him" following his fine showing in Australia, but also because of his "calibre" as a batsman. The bid - at his base price of INR 50 lakh (USD 69,000 approx.) - drew attention given the tempo and style of his batting: his T20 strike rate stands at 109.35.
"We also wanted to honour him, that's for sure. But at the same time, I can tell you one thing, a person of his calibre with such good technique, he can adapt to any format," Viswanathan said. "That is our view. He can be a player who can contribute a lot to CSK. That's what we felt and that is the reason why we picked him.
"He will certainly have a role to play, but I cannot say whether he will play the first game or the second game."
The Super Kings' top officials throwing their weight behind Dhoni is not new. Last year, N Srinivasan, the vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements, owners of the Super Kings, had also indicated that Dhoni would be retained at the next mega auction, at the time scheduled for the lead-up to the 2021 edition. As part of the fallout of the pandemic, that has now been postponed by a year, and it remains to be seen whether Srinivasan's opinion stands then.