Jadeja chucks CSK captaincy; Dhoni back at the helm


MS Dhoni will take over as Chennai Super Kings captain from Ravindra Jadeja, after just eight games in charge for the latter. A statement from Super Kings said Jadeja wanted to step aside to “focus more on his game”.

Dhoni, 40, who had captained Super Kings since the IPL began in 2008 – bar the two years when the franchise was suspended in the wake of the 2013 spot-fixing case – handed over to Jadeja at the start of the 2022 season. Super Kings, the defending champions, have since won two games in eight, and sit at number nine out of ten teams on the points table.

Super Kings said in a statement: “Ravindra Jadeja has decided to relinquish captaincy to focus and concentrate more on his game and has requested MS Dhoni to lead CSK.

“MS Dhoni has accepted to lead CSK in the larger interest and to allow Jadeja to focus on his game.”

ESPNcricinfo has learned that the question of whether the pressure of captaincy was having an impact on Jadeja the player was under review for the past few weeks. Jadeja himself was involved in these talks with the team management, along with the head coach Stephen Fleming and Dhoni.

Eventually Jadeja decided that in the best interests of the team, it would be better for him to step down. It is learned that N Srinivasan, Super Kings’ owner, too, was consulted before the franchise made the announcement.

As to the question of why the franchise went back to Dhoni, the team management decided he was still the best person to lead; there was no other credible option.

Dhoni is understood to have agreed only because it was in the best interests of the team. For now, the franchise has decided to focus on the 2022 season and revisit the captaincy issue when planning begins for next year.

Overall, out of 213 games as Super Kings captain across the IPL and now-defunct Champions League T20 (CLT20), Dhoni had recorded 130 wins and 81 losses – and six title triumphs (four IPL, two CLT20).

Jadeja, 33, took over having had little experience leading at the top level: his only previous stint in charge in representative cricket was for India Under-19s, in a series in 2007. He had not captained a senior team full-time prior to this.

Jadeja is recognised as one of the top all-format all-rounders, but in Super Kings’ poor start to defending the trophy they won at IPL 2021, his form took a hit: he has 112 runs in eight games at 22.40, with a strike rate of 121.73, and five wickets at 42.60 with an economy rate of 8.19.

This, as against 1592 runs overall for Super Kings at 26.53 with a strike rate of 136.41, and 114 wickets at 28.61 and an economy rate of 7.75. In the previous two seasons, especially, Jadeja’s batting form for Super Kings had soared: 459 runs at an average of 57.37 and strike rate of 157.73, as he seemed primed to take over the finisher’s role from Dhoni.

Super Kings, who play Kane Williamson’s Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday, have little margin for error left if they are to turn things around and make the playoffs after having begun the season with four defeats on the trot.

Moeen Ali on the mend

In a boost for Super Kings, all-rounder Moeen Ali, who hurt his ankle last weekend, started to train for the first time on Saturday. Moeen will not be ready to play the game against Sunrisers, but the franchise is optimistic about him returning against Royal Challengers Bangalore, on May 4. (ESPNcricinfo)

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