Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Sunday said that Chennai Super Kings’ “core group” of players will be looked at after the franchise finished out of the Indian Premier League play-off bracket for the first time in 11 appearances.
CSK crushed Kings XI Punjab by nine wickets to end their worst-ever IPL season on a positive note, with Ruturaj Gaikwad’s third successive half-century providing hope for a bright future.
A league-stage exit is a first for the three-time champions and one of IPL’s most successful franchises.
“We need to slightly change our core group and look for the next 10 years,” Dhoni said after the team’s final league game. “At the start of the IPL, we made a team and it served well. There comes a time where you have to shift a bit, hand it over to the next generation.”
Dhoni, 39, vowed that his team will come back strongly in the next season. “We’ll come back stronger, that’s what we are known for.”
The World Cup-winning captain fuelled IPL retirement rumours by handing over his signed jerseys to Kolkata Knight Riders players after his team’s victory on Thursday.
But, at the toss for Sunday’s game, Dhoni himself confirmed that he will be there next season.
“Definitely not,” said Dhoni when asked by former New Zealand pacer Danny Morrison if the game against Kings XI Punjab was his last for CSK.
“(The jerseys) maybe they thought I’m retiring,” he said at the presentation ceremony.
Coming back to the campaign, he acknowledged that it was a very difficult one with the team losing eight of their 14 matches.
“It was a difficult campaign. We committed a lot of errors. The last four games were a template of where we would like to be.”
Dhoni accepted that team didn’t play to its full potential. “I don’t think we played to the full potential. If you are lagging too much, it becomes very difficult to push yourself and come up with performances. Very proud of the way they played their cricket. It would have been a very tough six-seven games.
“You won’t want to be in a dressing room that is not really enjoying cricket. You want to keep coming up with different ideas but if the dressing room atmosphere is not happy, it becomes very tough. A lot depends on what the BCCI decides upon the auction. This has been a tough year. This is one of the seasons where most of the teams played well.”
The 23-year-old Gaikwad stood out again with his fine strokeplay and temperament and Dhoni was full of praise for the batsman.
“Whenever we have seen Rutu bat, he’s somebody who has done well in net sessions. But we were not able to see him in games. Then he got Covid, and even after 20 days he was not fit. He didn’t get time for us to gauge. That was one of the main reasons we kept going with Faf and Watson. It didn’t work. But that’s the point where you go with the experienced players.”
(With inputs from PTI)