Chennai Super Kings' Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Chennai Super Kings' skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will now guide Ruturaj Gaikwad after giving up the captaincy on the eve of the opener against Royal Challengers Bengaluru Image Credit: AFP

Chennai: Defending champions Indian Premier League Chennai Super Kings will be starting a new era after skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni handed over the captaincy to star batter Ruturaj Gaikwad.

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The other five-time champions Mumbai Indians recently replaced their most successful captain Rohit Sharma with Hardik Pandya. And Chennai seemed to have followed in the footsteps of the Blue and Gold team.

The 42-year-old skipper, who is known as Thala (leader) for the ardent fans, has been planning to call it quits for some time now. However, after a stunning 2023 season, where he guided the team to their fifth IPL title, the former Indian skipper decided to extend his run with the Super Kings, saying that he has a year to decide.

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Still the extremely popular skipper has not made his intentions clear, however, he has been training with the team in preparation for the defence, which the Yellove starts in a South Indian derby against Royal Challengers Bengaluru at their den in Chennai on Friday.

In a surprise but expected move, the Super Kings announced the decision on their official social media page.

Ruturaj Gaikwad of Chennai Super Kings with the IPL trophy in front of the fans after a thrilling season 14 in the UAE
Ruturaj Gaikwad with the IPL trophy after Chennai defeated Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2021 final in Dubai. Image Credit: ANI

More burden on the able shoulders

“”OFFICIAL STATEMENT: MS Dhoni hands over the captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad,” read the message.

It is not the first time the Chennai Super Kings are giving their succession plan a go. In 2022, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was handed over the reins but the team’s fortunes suffered miserably, which forced the management to hand the captaincy back to Dhoni.

Hopefully, Gaikwad, the dependable opener, will be able to continue his stunning form, which he has been carrying successfully for the last three years, along with the added responsibilities. And should the 27-year-old succeed, then the Super Kings will be heaving a big sigh of relief. His first test starts on Friday.

It will also be the first time since the beginning of the Indian Premier League that all Indian captains, former and present, will not be leading their respective franchises. Virat Kohli gave up Royal Challengers Bengaluru captaincy to Faf du Plessis a couple of years ago.