cricket:image:1434334 [1400x933]
cricket:image:1434334 [1400x933] (Credit: Associated Press)

Members of NC State 83 title team sue NCAA

The question has been doing the rounds from even before IPL 2024 started: is this MS Dhoni's last IPL as a player?

"I do not know," Chennai Super Kings (CSK) CEO Kasi Viswanathan said in answer to the question on the CSK YouTube channel. "It is a question which only MS can answer. The question for us, we have always respected the decisions taken by MS, we have left it to him.

"As all of you know, he has always taken his decisions and announced it at the appropriate time. We do expect that we will get a decision as and when he decides. But we are very, very hopeful that he will be available for CSK the next year. That is the view and expectations of the fans and mine."

Over the last few years, Dhoni has been asked this question directly and repeatedly by broadcasters. But his quiet handover of the CSK captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad ahead of this IPL meant Dhoni, now 42, went through the tournament without a media interaction.

By the time next season comes along, Dhoni will be 43 and CSK will need new plans before a mega auction. If Viswanathan is to be believed, Dhoni, who hit 161 runs in 73 balls at strike rate of 220.55 this season - the second-highest behind Jake Fraser-McGurk (min. 25 balls) - and kept competently, will be there if he wants to be.

As for Stephen Fleming, CSK's long-time coach who has recently been linked to a possible role as India head coach, Viswanathan said he does not feel Fleming is changing roles just yet.

"I jokingly asked Stephen, 'have you applied to the Indian coaching assignment? Stephen just laughed and said: 'Do you want me to?'," Viswanathan said. "I know that it's not going to be his cup of tea because he doesn't like to be involved [in coaching] for nine-ten months in a year. That's my feeling. I have not discussed anything more on him."

When asked about CSK's retention plans for the big squad shake-up expected before IPL 2025, Viswanathan said the matter would be discussed only after clarity from BCCI's side to the franchises.

"It is too early because we have still not heard from BCCI on the kind of retentions which are going to be part of the next cycle of auction," he said. "So we are expecting that the BCCI would discuss with all franchise owners before they take a decision on retention."

Five-time IPL champions CSK finished fifth this season, missing out on the playoffs for only the third time, with 2020 and 2022 the previous occasions. In each of those occasions, they bounced back to finish champions the following season.