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MS Dhoni hands over CSK captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad

MS Dhoni had been CSK's captain throughout their time at the IPL, except for a brief period in 2022 when Ravindra Jadeja took over

Ruturaj Gaikwad has been unveiled as the new captain of Chennai Super Kings a day before the opening game of IPL 2024, where defending champions CSK take on the visiting Royal Challengers Bengaluru at Chepauk. This brings to an end MS Dhoni's long stint as captain of CSK - which began in the tournament's first season back in 2008 - though he had stepped away from the position in 2022 too, when Ravindra Jadeja was made captain. But Jadeja stepped down after eight matches and Dhoni took back the reins, continuing in 2023 when CSK won the trophy for the fifth time and drew level with Mumbai Indians at the top of the title leaderboard.
That triumph was widely expected to be Dhoni's IPL farewell - he had retired from international cricket following the 2019 World Cup - but he vowed to return for at least one more season if his body allowed it. Troubled by a knee issue right through the 2023 season, Dhoni underwent surgery days after the final. The 42-year-old joined CSK's pre-season camp in Chennai earlier this month.
In all, Dhoni captained CSK in 235 of their 249 games in all competitions, leading them to two titles in the defunct Champions League T20 to go with the five IPL titles, in 2010, 2011, 2018, 2021 and 2023. Such was CSK's consistency under Dhoni's leadership, that the team finished outside the top four in just two seasons - 2020 and 2022 - while also reaching the final 10 times, including four consecutive years, from 2010 to 2013.
He also captained Rising Pune Supergiant for 14 games during CSK's two-year ban from the IPL in 2016 and 2017. In all, he led teams in 226 IPL games, which puts him far ahead of Rohit Sharma (158) on the captaincy leaderboard.
The size of the shoes Gaikwad steps into can be gauged by Dhoni's win-loss ratio of 1.461 in the IPL, a figure bettered only by Hardik Pandya (2.444) and Steven Smith (1.470) among captains who have led teams in 20 or more matches.
The 27-year-old Gaikwad has been tipped to take over from Dhoni ever since he finished the 2021 IPL season - his second in the competition - with a chart-topping 635 runs. The Maharashtra batter has since grown into one of CSK's most consistent performers, and his run-scoring feats in the IPL have earned him a place on the immediate periphery of India's first-choice white-ball squads. He has played 6 ODIs and 19 T20Is so far.
With 1797 runs from 52 matches at an average of 39.06 and a strike rate of 135.52, Gaikwad is currently CSK's seventh-highest run-getter. Among the first issues he is expected to handle as captain is deciding who he will open alongside, with his regular partner Devon Conway ruled out until May with a thumb injury.
Gaikwad has himself only just recovered from a finger injury, and has only played one competitive game in 2024 - a Ranji Trophy match against Services, where he top-scored with 96 in Maharashtra's first innings.