The stage is set for an epic showdown as the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and the Gujarat Titans (GT) gear up for the final of the 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL). Originally scheduled for Sunday night, the match was postponed to Monday due to persistent rain, making it a thrilling contest on the reserve day. CSK, who defeated GT in the first qualifier, are vying for their record-equaling fifth IPL title in what promises to be a gripping finale.
Throughout the season, speculation has surrounded the IPL future of CSK captain MS Dhoni, who has remained tight-lipped about his participation in the next edition. While fans and experts eagerly await his decision, former India opener Virender Sehwag, who played under Dhoni’s captaincy for Team India, weighed in. Sehwag asserted that Dhoni would either continue playing as a first-team player or retire, emphasizing the Impact Player rule as a determining factor.
Sehwag’s comments regarding Dhoni’s future were about the Impact Player rule, which poses certain considerations for the CSK captain. Sehwag pointed out that the rule doesn’t apply to Dhoni, intended for players who don’t field but contribute with their batting or as non-bowling specialists.
“It’s not difficult (to play cricket in the 40s) if you’re fit. MS Dhoni hasn’t batted too much this year. He’s not aggravating his knee injury. Often, he would come in the last two overs. If I count the total balls he faced, I think he would’ve faced 40-50 deliveries this season.” Sehwag on Dhoni.
As a captain, Dhoni’s role demands his presence on the field for the entirety of the match, making him ineligible for the Impact Player designation. Sehwag suggested that if Dhoni were not the captain, he might transition into a mentor, coach, or Director of Cricket role.
“Impact Player rule doesn’t apply on MS Dhoni. Because he’s playing only for captaincy, he has to stay on the ground for captaincy. The impact Player rule is for someone who doesn’t field but bats or a bowler who doesn’t need to bat. Dhoni has to field 20 overs; if he’s not the captain, he won’t even play as Impact Player. Then, you will see him as mentor, coach, or Director of Cricket,” Sehwag told Cricbuzz.
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Sehwag further highlighted that Dhoni hadn’t had extensive batting opportunities this season, often coming in during the last few overs. Due to his calculated approach, Dhoni hasn’t exacerbated his knee injury and has faced a relatively small number of deliveries, estimated to be around 40-50, throughout the season. This cautious approach has allowed Dhoni to conserve his fitness and contribute to the team’s success in crucial moments.
Interestingly, CSK’s bowling coach, Dwayne Bravo, had expressed optimism about Dhoni’s future with the team. Bravo cited the Impact Player rule as a factor that could facilitate Dhoni’s continued involvement, prolonging his career. The rule’s flexibility could enable Dhoni to contribute to the team even if he transitions into a non-playing role.
Interestingly, CSK’s bowling coach Dwayne Bravo had earlier said that the Impact Player rule would make it easier for Dhoni to play for the side in the future. “100 percent. Especially with the Impact Player rule. It will keep prolonging his career,” Bravo had told Star Sports after CSK had qualified for the final last week.