MS Dhoni hands over Chennai Super Kings captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad ahead of IPL 2024 | Ipl News

CSK captaincy news: Ruturaj Gaikwad replaced MS Dhoni as Chennai Super Kings captain ahead of IPL 2024. (PHOTOS via CSK, IPL X)

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has stepped down as the captain of Chennai Super Kings with Ruturaj Gaikwad named the new skipper ahead of the new IPL season beginning on Friday. Dhoni, who led CSK to five IPL titles, will continue to be available as a player for the season and barring any last minute injury scares will keep wickets against Royal Challengers Bengaluru on Friday.

Though the move to change captain on the eve of the season may come as a surprise, behind the scenes, the Super Kings have been grooming Gaikwad for the role. In 2022, days before the new season in Maharashtra, Dhoni had handed over the reins to Ravindra Jadeja. But the move backfired with Jadeja stepping down as captain mid-way through the season and Dhoni taking charge again.

And ahead of the 2023 IPL, CSK got on board Ben Stokes as captaincy option, but with the all-rounder struggling with fitness issues, they had turned their eyes on Gaikwad. Though the 27-year-old isn’t a regular member of the India set-up, the opener is admired all through the franchise set-up.

Having come into the CSK system in 2019, he made his debut in 2020, where he started with three Man of the match awards in three successive matches. Then in 2021, as Chennai won their fourth title, he was the Orange Cap holder. And since then he has established himself as a regular member of the side.

CSK former captain MS Dhoni Chennai Super Kings star MS Dhoni. (Instagram)

During the 2022/23 domestic season, during Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign, Gaikwad spent considerable time with Dhoni, where the first steps were taken towards the change of guard. That it happened in Ranchi, without any media glare was a typical Dhoni style of passing the baton, just like he did with Virat Kohli with the Indian team.

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And since then Gaikwad too has been regularly attending the captaincy programmes being conducted by Stephen Fleming in the team hotel. In an earlier interaction with The Indian Express, CSK’s batting coach Mike Hussey, who has worked closely with Gaikwad said, the opener has all the ingredients to lead the side. “Like Dhoni, he is very calm. He is actually very calm when it comes to handling the pressure like Dhoni and he is a very good reader of the game and as I said earlier, he is very observant and I think people are drawn to him because of his nature, character and personality and they like being around him. He has got some excellent leadership qualities,” Hussey had said.

In fact, during that Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign, where Gaikwad led Maharashtra to the final, several of his teammates had found him to follow Dhoni’s model as a captain. Apart from scheduling their practice sessions to planning the team outing, everything was done by Gaikwad, just like how CSK is operated by MS Dhoni.

“He has become our everything,” Azim Kazi, Maharashtra’s all-rounder said. “We are getting to learn new things. He has changed the total set-up and how we prepare ourselves. We are together as a team even in the hotel. For instance, he has left his hotel room open at all times and we can go and seek his help for anything. If a player is struggling, he is the first one to point it out off the field and say how to rectify it. What is more impressive is his gameplan and how he has identified a role for everyone and uses us judiciously,” Kazi added.

Having used the Maharashtra set-up to groom himself to the role, Gaikwad now steps into Dhoni’s shoes.

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