'We Were Not Ready To Move On From MS Dhoni In 2022': Head Coach Stephen Fleming On CSK Captaincy Change

'We Were Not Ready To Move On From MS Dhoni In 2022': Head Coach Stephen Fleming On CSK Captaincy Change

In 2022, CSK entered the IPL with Ravindra Jadeja as their skipper but it was a move that backfired, with Dhoni taking back the role midway through the season in which they finished second last.

PTIUpdated: Friday, March 22, 2024, 01:04 AM IST
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Stephen Fleming and MS Dhoni. | (Credits: Twitter)

Chennai Super Kings were not ready to "move on" from MS Dhoni in IPL 2022 when Ravindra Jadeja was named captain, admitted head coach Stephen Fleming here on Thursday while adding that the five-time winners are now "well-prepared" to have a new skipper in Ruturaj Gaikwad.

On the eve of the IPL season-opener against Royal Challengers Bangalore here, CSK announced that opening batter Gaikwad will take over the captaincy from Dhoni.

Jadeja's unsuccessful stint

In 2022, CSK entered the IPL with Jadeja as their skipper but it was a move that backfired, with Dhoni taking back the role midway through the season in which they finished second last.

"The big thing about 2022 was that we were not ready for MS (Dhoni) to move aside, and what it did was probably shake us and it was pretty much unthinkable at that stage," Fleming told the media at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

"We have made sure that we work hard on, not to repeat the mistakes that were made back then. The leadership isn't a secret. We're making sure to have the right plans in place," he said.

"MS Dhoni has a wonderful sense of the game. But one of the other things about him that we are proud of is the development of young players. Giving ownership and trust really works. It's not just the captain's job to pull the strings. We are well-prepared this time," Fleming said.

MSD's call to take on captaincy

Fleming, who has been CSK's head coach since 2009, said giving up the captaincy was Dhoni's decision alone.

"It was MS, with a lot of consideration and a view to the future on the back of a good last season. The timing was good. Behind the scenes, Ruturaj and others have been going through captaincy grooming courses, especially for days like this. When the opportunity comes up, MS is the best judge," he said.

The shock factor

Fleming said Dhoni's announcement was a "low-key" event since there has been a build-up which has lasted for two years or so.

"It was typically very low-key, and it quickly took off to a celebration, as the players embraced Ruturaj," he said.

"Of course, there was a little bit of a shock around it, but going back to two years behind, the players and now the ex-captain (Dhoni) handled it well while announcing the decision to the team," Fleming added.

Dhoni's struggles with knee injury

Fleming said Dhoni, who struggled with a knee injury last IPL, has looked fitter this season.

"The indication from his pre-season is that he is going really well. His body is a lot better and stronger than last year, and his desire to contribute and do well is inspiring and great for us," said the former Kiwi captain.

Fleming on Kohli's return

The CSK coach, meanwhile, anticipated that senior RCB batter Virat Kohli would be refreshed following a two-month break from top-flight cricket.

Kohli, who last played for India on their tour of South Africa, missed the series against Afghanistan and England at home.

"He is too good. His mental strength is something that I admire. Whatever challenges are thrown at him, he will find a way to overcome them," Fleming said.

"It might be refreshing for him from the break, both physically and mentally. He will come back strong and will be dangerous, and we are expecting him to be at his very best. If we can restrict him, it could be great," he added.

Rachin Ravindra's entry into CSK

Fleming likened New Zealand sensation Rachin Ravindra with seasoned Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, backing the young Kiwi player to come good in the IPL.

"It's a learning opportunity for him, and what he can do in the IPL is fast-forward those learning because you are around great players, including Daryl Mitchell. Both of the guys have fitted in well, which I was confident of," Fleming said.

"Rachin has a different flare about him, and his all-round skills are of best interest, including his left-arm spin, which is similar to Jadeja. So, if we look at an opportunity of having someone like Jadeja, he will fit in," he added.

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