Mahendra Singh Dhoni answered the most-anticipated question of the IPL season – on his future in the tournament – but without quite answering it one way or another in the affirmative. The soon to be 42-year-old CSK captain admitted that now was the best time to walk away, but felt he could try and give his adoring fans a gift by staying on for another season.
“The easy thing for me to say is thank you and retire,” Dhoni said at the presentation ceremony. “But the hard thing to do is to work hard for nine months and try to play one more IPL season. The body has to hold up. But the amount of love I have received from CSK fans, it would be a gift from me, to play one more season. The way they’ve shown their love and emotion, it’s something I need to do for them.”
“It [the season] started over here [in Ahmedabad] and the full house was chanting my name. It was my same thing in Chennai, but it will be good to come back and play whatever I can,” Dhoni added.
IPL’s return to venues all around the country for the first time since 2019 and the expectation that Dhoni was about to play his last sparked a nation-wide display of support for the CSK captain. Almost every ground had more supporters in yellow as Dhoni led CSK to yet another playoffs and eventually the final. The long-awaited reunion of the CSK captain and the Chepauk faithful saw adulation for him hit fever pitch in Chennai – a phenomena that even moved the otherwise poker-faced Dhoni to tear.
“You do get emotional, the first game at CSK everyone was chanting my name. My eyes were full of water, I needed to take some time off in the dugout,” Dhoni revealed. “I realised I need to enjoy this. I think they love me for what I am, they love that I am so grounded, I don’t try to portray something I’m not.”