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News

Hussey hopes Dhoni keeps going for 'another couple of years'

CSK batting coach says Dhoni "keeps his cards very, very close to his chest" when asked if he would be back next year

Is this going to be MS Dhoni's last IPL season?
Michael Hussey, Chennai Super Kings' batting coach, has little idea but he is hoping Dhoni carries on for "another couple of years".
"Your guess is as good as mine at this stage," Hussey said on ESPN's Around the Wicket show when asked if Dhoni would be back next year. "He keeps his cards very, very close to his chest. We are hoping he does keep going.
"He is still batting so well. He does prepare well - he gets into the camp very early and hits a lot of balls. He has been in good touch all season really. I guess we just got to try to manage him from the body side of things. He had a knee surgery after the last season. So he has been managing that from the initial stage of the tournament.
"From a personal point of view, I hope he keeps going for another couple of years. But we will just have to wait and see. He is the only one who will make that call. And he likes to sort of build the drama a little bit as well. So I wouldn't expect a decision anytime soon."
Because of the knee surgery, CSK have been managing Dhoni's workload. He comes out to face only a handful of deliveries. Against Punjab Kings, he even batted at No. 9. Despite that, he has been able to make an impact. In ten innings, he has scored 136 runs at a strike rate of 226.66.
"I know fans probably want to see him batting a little bit higher in the order," Hussey said, "but that [the knee surgery] is why we have had to manage him a little bit and he only comes in at the back end. But there has been no one better in being able to come in and hit the ball so cleanly from ball one than MS. He has been phenomenal."
At the start of the season, Dhoni caught many, including Hussey, by surprise when he handed over the captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad. But the transition has been smooth as Gaikwad was already being groomed for the role. Plus, Dhoni is also around to help him.
"MS sort of announced that he was not going to be attending the pre-tournament captains meeting. And we're like, 'Oh, no. What's going on?'," Hussey said. "He said Ruturaj was going to be captain from then on. So it was a little bit of a shock to start with but it has been managed really well.
"I know Stephen Fleming [head coach] had been working closely with Ruturaj in the lead-up to the tournament. In fact, he has been grooming him for a couple of years now. We have sort of known for a little while that he was the right man to take over the job when MS decided to step aside.
"MS wanted to still be here while the new captain took over, to try to help him along the way and sort of mentor him a little bit. So that's worked really well as well. And obviously, Stephen Fleming is a great role model for him [Gaikwad] as well. So it's been quite seamless actually."
Under Gaikwad's leadership, CSK have won seven out of 13 games so far. They are currently third on the points table and a win against Royal Challengers Bengaluru on Saturday will assure a playoffs spot. Gaikwad himself has played a key role with bat. With 583 runs at a strike rate of 141.50, he is the second-highest run-getter in the league at the moment.
"He is a great guy, Ruturaj, very calm," Hussey said. "He is a good thinker of the game. I mean it was always going to be a massive challenge for him, you know, how do you follow someone like MS Dhoni - it was going to be tough. But he has done a great job. He has been really calm and measured on the field. I think he will just get better and better the more he does it and the more support we keep around him.
"From my point of view, the pleasing thing is, it has not affected his batting at all either. He has performed extremely well with the bat. So it has been really good so far."