Sports

Dhoni returns as Super Kings captain after Jadeja steps down

MS Dhoni will return as the Chennai Super Kings captain, with Ravindra Jadeja stepping down from the position after just eight games in charge. A statement from Super Kings said Jadeja wanted to resign in order to “focus more on his game”.

The statement said: “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 learnt that the question of whether or not the pressure of captaincy was having an impact on Jadeja, his performances have been in review for the past few weeks. Jadeja was involved in discussions on the matter with the team management, along with the head coach Stephen Fleming and Dhoni. Eventually, Jadeja decided that it would be better for him – and the team – for him to step down. It is learnt that N Srinivasan, Super Kings’ owner, was also consulted before the franchise made the announcement.

As to why the franchise went back to Dhoni, it is understood that the team management decided he was still the best person to lead, and there was no credible option. For now, the franchise has decided to focus on the 2022 season and revisit the captaincy issue when planning begins for next year.

Dhoni, 40, 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 – but handed over the reins to Jadeja at the start of the 2022 season. Super Kings, the defending champions, have since won two games in eight, and sit at No. 9 out of ten teams on the points table.

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

Jadeja, 33, took over this season despite little experience of 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.

He is recognised as one of the top all-format allrounders, 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, 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.

Moeen on the mend

In a boost for Super Kings, allrounder Moeen Ali, who hurt his ankle last weekend, resumed training 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.

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