“DHONI IS CHENNAI, CHENNAI IS DHONI.” IS A CRICKETER BIGGER THAN THE TEAM?

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MS Dhoni, the store house of talent and former captain of Team India announced his retirement from international cricket on August 15th, 2020, the day when India was celebrating its Independence Day. The news came as a shock to everyone, even those who wanted him to retire after his last match in World Cup 2019 which was against New Zealand. Fans started to speculate about his new venture as soon as the news of retirement was official. Cricket fans clearly have not had their fill of Dhoni and wanted see few more helicopter shot years. Thus, fans and cricket fraternity took a sigh of relief when the cricketer decided to play domestic cricket which meant that he would still be a part of the latest edition of IPL. Dhoni has been one of those players who have been an integral aspect of IPL and have seen it grow. But when a cricket, as huge as Dhoni decide to bring a change in their career it is bound to raise questions. His retirement raised questions and so has his decision of continuing with IPL. Let’s ask few of them.

ARE LEAGUE MATCHES STEALING PLAYERS FROM INTERNATIONAL GROUNDS?

No matter it’s a human or a sport, it needs to evolve with time. Indian Premier League, Big Bash League, Lanka Premier League, all of these names are by products of this evolution that has happened in cricket. Surely, it is a great platform for the players who are done with their international cricket careers and even greater for the ones who struggle to make a place in the international cricket but these leagues have emerged as an easy escape routes for established cricketers like Dhoni. Dhoni has a huge experience and laurels attached to his name. Any franchise would feel lucky to have him. And now with no pressure to keep up with international cricket, the cricketer is free to focus all his stamina, strength and technique in this format of cricket. When Dhoni announced his retirement, many believed that the cricketer still has a lot of cricket in him and should not quit playing. India wanted to see more of him and his famous shots but as we can see, Dhoni had other plans. After bidding goodbye to the national team, Dhoni continues to be apart of IPL. This switch over raises a question in the minds of cricket fanatics. Are we losing our favourite players to popular and fast league matches?

DOES IPL HAVE NO PLAYER AS HUGE AS DHONI?

If we say that Dhoni and IPL have grown together, it won’t be wrong. Dhoni was not this huge a cricketer as he is now, when IPL played its first season. The first season of IPL brought captaincy to Dhoni and made IPL the richest league in the world and since then neither has Dhoni stopped, nor IPL. Dhoni became synonymous with IPL and Chennai Super Kings. He brought an X factor to the sgort format of cricket with the way he played those 20 over matches. Saba Karim, a former Indian wicket keeper agrees to this and says, “Dhoni played an instrumental role in kick-starting the IPL because of the way he brought different dimension to the shorter format of the game.” Saba Karim also gives credit to his “calm exterior behind the stumps and aggressive side with the willow”.

MS Dhoni showed the world a new kind of cricket with IPL and the other players from around the world joined in. IPL became one of a kind because of the good mix of players that it brings to its grounds. It is a treat to watch IPL matches because not even in the wildest of dreams a cricket fan would have thought watching AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli on the same team. Dhoni playing with Shane Watson as a teammate would only have been one amongst many wishes of cricket nerds. IPL Made it come true but Dhoni still continues to dominate the game, even after the existence of so many international stars. What makes people write on twitter, “if Dhoni pulls out of IPL, there’s no IPL”? One can only resort to Saba Karim’s words. The efficiency to stay cool and rain runs with the willow, makes Dhoni irreplaceable.

“DHONI IS CHENNAI, CHENNAI IS DHONI”?

Since the beginning of IPL, Dhoni has been associated with Chennai Super Kings. He has led the team to victory three times and made CSKs runner-ups five times in the history of IPL. Chief Executive of CSK, Kasi Vishwanathan said that Dhoni is going to remain key to the plans of the team and they do not expect him to big adieu to IPL anytime soon. Aakash Chopra, former cricketer and now commentator said that Dhoni continues to be, “the biggest strength of the team and the entire franchise is dependant on him.” It puts the player on the pedestal and also raises few questions. CSK is a team lined up with great players like Harbhajan Singh, Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo, Suresh Raina and the list goes on, but is as dependable as Dhoni? Is it right to belittle the efforts of the entire team to praise one cricketer, even if the cricketer is as great as Dhoni is? Aakash Chpra further said, “He is the soul of Chennai Super Kings. As long as he is there, CSK’s heart keeps beating and they move forward. Dhoni is going to rule the roost once again as a captain, as a batsman.” Now this seems like a serious question on the dependability of the other teammates. Cricket is a team sport and we should not forget that one player cannot take the match to the trophy. No player can substitute a team and this is what we all need to remember when we praise Dhoni next time. Shouldn’t we?

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