Mahi Bhai Hinted On Captaincy Shift Last Year – Ruturaj Gaikwad

MS Dhoni had hinted to Ruturaj Gaikwad about the possibility of a captaincy transition during IPL 2023. These indications materialized on the eve of Chennai Super Kings’ IPL 2024 opener against Royal Challengers Bengaluru at the MA Chidambaram Stadium when Dhoni formally passed on his captaincy to Gaikwad.

“Last year, Mahi bhai had subtly suggested about captaincy at some point,” Ruturaj Gaikwad revealed to “He hinted that I should be prepared, so it wouldn’t come as a surprise. When we entered the camp, he involved me in some match simulations.”

Before the season commenced, MS Dhoni had aroused fan speculation on social media by alluding to a “new role.” Initially interpreted as a promotional endeavor for a broadcasting sponsor, it became apparent on Thursday evening that this might not have been entirely the case.

Mahi Bhai Hinted On Captaincy Shift Last Year - Ruturaj Gaikwad

Mahi Bhai Hinted On Captaincy Shift Last Year – Ruturaj Gaikwad

“I recall him mentioning a new role on social media, and everyone started pointing towards me, asking, ‘Are you the next captain?’ I thought maybe it meant something else in the context of social media,” Ruturaj Gaikwad remarked. “However, it was lingering in my mind. He then approached and said, ‘I’ve made this decision,’ and now that I’m here, I’m eagerly anticipating this.”

Gaikwad was initially signed at the base price [INR 20 lakh] before the 2019 season but didn’t get a chance to play. In IPL 2020, he faced a challenging start with three ducks and a battle with Covid-19. However, he returned strongly towards the end of the season, becoming the first uncapped Indian to achieve three consecutive half-centuries.

Since then, Gaikwad has become an integral part of the Chennai Super Kings squad. In 2021, he formed a formidable opening partnership with Faf du Plessis as the Super Kings clinched their fourth title. Gaikwad finished the season with the Orange Cap for scoring the most runs [635 in 16 games], with du Plessis closely following. Gaikwad has spoken highly of the support and encouragement he received from du Plessis after that tournament.

Reflecting on the upcoming challenge, Ruturaj Gaikwad expressed his excitement, especially about the opening game, saying, “A lot to look forward to. It [opening game] is one of the most exciting first-day games to look forward to.”

MS Dhoni had made a similar move in 2022 when he handed the captaincy to Ravindra Jadeja before the season started. However, after a poor start, Dhoni reclaimed the reins, and the Super Kings finished ninth that season. The issue of succession planning at Super Kings has been a subject of debate since then, with head coach Stephen Fleming mentioning it in his pre-match press conference. This time, he believes the transition will be smoother.

Gaikwad expressed his gratitude for the trust placed in him by Dhoni, saying, “It feels great for two reasons. To be part of this wonderful franchise from the start of my IPL journey and then to be entrusted by MS Dhoni with a leadership role speaks volumes. The challenge lies ahead, and I’m looking forward to it.”

He emphasized his intention not to alter the franchise’s approach, stating, “I’ve learned how the franchise operates throughout the year, their mantra, the reasons behind their success, what the franchise goes through, what Mahi bhai or the support staff do. I wouldn’t want to change anything. Having Mahi bhai on the field is a great backbone. I also have Ajju [Ajinkya Rahane] bhai and Jaddu bhai as well, plenty of options to look around. I don’t think I’ll need to change anything. Just provide the kind of freedom the players want, and everything will be fine.”

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