Chennai, June 29: MS Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings have become inseparable since he joined them ahead of the inaugural IPL 2008.
Now after 15 years, Dhoni has led them to 4 IPL titles and one Champions League triumph. In all likelihood, Dhoni will lead the CSK in IPL 2023 too.
A 40-year-old cricketer leading an IPL side is quite unimaginable, even against cricketing logic. But when it comes to Dhoni and CSK such calculations have no real merit, it is an emotional chord that dictates the relationship.
CSK owner and former BCCI chief N Srinivasan detailed how the Chennai outfit arrived at the decision to buy Dhoni from the first IPL auction in 2008.
“At the IPL auctions, I missed the first two picks. I had asked VB Chandrasekhar to hold the baton. At any price, I wanted MS Dhoni.
"The reason I felt very confident was I felt the other people did not know arithmetic. They had said that they will give 10 percent (15 percent in fact) more to the icon player, because they all wanted an icon.
“Punjab wanted Yuvraj Singh, Delhi wanted Virender Sehwag, Bangalore wanted Rahul Dravid, Mumbai needed Sachin Tendulkar. They asked me, I said no. My father taught me some arithmetic.
“I figured out if 1.5 million out of five million went to the icon players - then what are you left with to get the rest of the 22 players.
"Suddenly, Mumbai was bidding up to 1.5 million for Dhoni. Then they realised that they have to give the icon player 15 percent more than what they give to the most expensive player (in the auction).
“They said 3.5 million, everything gone, and they collapsed. And that is how MS Dhoni came to Chennai. It was 100 per cent arithmetic. No other reason why we got Dhoni. The anxiety to get their (other teams) favourite player was greater than their arithmetic,” said Srinivasan in the Sportstar Conclave.
Dhoni is the Thala (leader) for CSK team members and for the fans. It’s a title given to Dhoni more out of love than in awe. It’s quite apt to say that Dhoni is as much as a Chennaiite now as he is from Jharkhand.
Srinivasan said the mutual love affair started when the CSK management gifted him a bike after joining the club.
“From the first day, we gave him a bike, and he just disappeared. He drove all around the city,” Srinavasan said.
“Why he grew on Chennai and why Chennai grew on him was because on match day you will turn around and suddenly see him on his bike,” he added.
“He has travelled the length and breadth of the city. That, in his own way, has endeared him to the city. It is quite alright to think that there is no CSK without Dhoni and no Dhoni without CSK,” Srinivasan said.
Dhoni had stepped down as the Super Kings captain ahead of the IPL 2022 handing over the reins to Ravindra Jadeja.
But Dhoni had to take over the captaincy of the CSK midway IPL 2022 after the team lost a few matches in a row under Jadeja. However, the CSK, the defending champions, could not enter the IPL 2022 knockouts.