'He is the owner, he has given his blood and sweat to this team': Harbhajan Singh says MS Dhoni will always be with CSK

As another Indian Premier League (IPL) season draws to a close, the question of MS Dhoni's future is once again at the center of debate. This has been the norm since 2020, when he drew the curtains on his international career and decided to stick only to the IPL. “Definitely not” was his response to questions about retirement at the time. After winning the record 5th title in Ahmedabad last year, he extended his IPL career by another year for Chennai fans. But what's next? Only man knows himself.

Dhoni has been a man of few deliveries in the current season. Despite undergoing knee surgery last year, the legendary wicketkeeper-batsman is battling pain and is visibly struggling. He was maybe limping off the field at times and obviously with his age he's not as athletic as he was 4 or 5 years ago. But when he is in action, he has ensured optimal entertainment for the audience, regardless of the outcome of the match.

The former CSK striker batted in 10 innings and was dismissed only twice, including a duck in the first ball. But for the most part, it was with the bat that he made the biggest impact, crushing bowlers all around the park. Among all his cameos, the one that stood out was against Mumbai Indians when he hammered 20 off just 4 balls, hitting Hardik Pandya for 3 sixes off Wankhede.

But on the other hand, the scenes at Chepauk on Sunday evening suggested that IPL 2024 could be Dhoni's last. The defending champions comprehensively defeated Rajasthan Royals and climbed to grab third place in the table. After the victory, the CSK players were felicitated with medallions before taking a lap of honor to express their gratitude towards the fans who have been giving love to the team for years.

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Was this Dhoni's last IPL concert at Chepauk on Sunday? This remains a mystery because the franchise will never consider such discussions, especially when the team is about to make yet another playoff appearance. But what if this really is the last season Dhoni wears yellow on the field? Will the franchise retain the legend in another capacity – perhaps a coach or mentor – if the legend hangs it up after this season?

Reply to this CricketNext query on Star Sports Press Room show, Harbhajan Singh, commentator and cricket expert of the official IPL TV channel, said that Dhoni will not leave CSK.

“He’s the owner of the team. Uske marzi ke bina waha patta bhi nahi hilta. It's his team. He gave his blood, sweat and everything to this team. He will always be part of the CSK group, whether as a mentor or coach. He’s all there,” said the former CSK star.

“You will definitely see him in the CSK dugout in the coming seasons. Maybe not as a player but in another capacity, but he will be there with the players,” he added.

Echoing Harbhajan's sentiments, Ambati Rayudu, commentator and cricket expert of the official IPL TV channel, said that CSK is a team that Dhoni built and the legend will not leave it soon.

“Bhajji Paa rightly said it was his team. He developed the culture that exists today. He has trained the players of this franchise and he will definitely be there, that’s for sure,” Rayudu said.

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