MS Dhoni eyes to play a decisive role in selecting Rahul Dravid's replacement as India head coach

MS Dhoni's contribution can become a crucial factor in the selection of the next head coach of the Indian team. With the IPL over for Dhoni, Chennai Super Kings were eliminated from the tournament after losing their last league match against Royal Challengers Bengaluru – BCCI plans to seek help from legendary cricketer to become a deciding factor between board and CSK head coach Stephen Fleming.

MS Dhoni of Chennai Super Kings with head coach Stephen Fleming. (Sportzpics for BCCI)

Hindustan Times has learned that Fleming, a decorated cricketer in his playing days, who also captained New Zealand in 303 matches and is the longest-serving coach in the IPL, was the board's first choice to replace Rahul Dravid as India's head coach after the T20 World Cup. But the former Kiwi opener has expressed his reluctance to commit until 2027.

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The former New Zealand skipper, who has been at the helm of CSK since 2009, is quite happy with his short stints in different teams owned by the franchise in various T20 leagues across the world. In addition to being the head coach of Super Kings of Chennai In the IPL, Fleming is in charge of the Texas Super Kings in Major League Cricket (United States) and the Joburg Super Kings in SA20 (South Africa). He is also the head coach of Southern Brave in The Hundred.

Despite being associated with four different franchises in four different leagues, Fleming spends a lot of time with his family, mainly due to the short duration of the tournaments. If he accepts the BCCI offer, he will have to be on the road for almost the entire year, except for the two months in IPL.

According to sources, Fleming made this clear during his initial discussions with the BCCI during the initial stages of the IPL. BCCI then began looking for other options and approaches were made to Justin Langer, Gautam Gambhir and Mahela Jayawardene.

Although discussions with them continue, the board is not yet ready to give up on Fleming. Dhoni will probably be their last throw of the dice.

“Fleming didn't say no. He expressed concerns about the length of the contract, which is nothing unusual. Even Rahul Dravid wasn't keen at first. He was convinced. This shouldn't not be a surprise if the same Something happens with Fleming And who better than MS Dhoni to do the job” a BCCI source. told Hindustan Times.

Dhoni and Fleming have been close since the inception of IPL. In his only season as a player in the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008, Dhoni was Fleming's leading man at CSK. Since then, the two have developed a strong bond and are known to be close off the field. Dhoni and Fleming were never separated in the IPL. The Indian legend and Kiwi great was part of the Rising Pune Supergiant team when CSK was suspended for two years.

BCCI decision-makers believe that if anyone can convince Fleming to take up the challenge, it is Dhoni. “Opening channels with Dhoni during the IPL was not the right thing to do, but now it might be worth it,” the source added.

Why Stephen Fleming?

It stands to reason that the Indian team would go through a transition after the T20 World Cup in the Americas this year. This is believed to be captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli's last chance to get their hands on a World Cup. The 50 overs World Cup is three years away. At that time, Rohit will be 40 years old and Kohli 39 years old. Seeing them take part in the mega-event in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia is a far cry. Both stalwarts likely to focus more on Test cricket in coming years

BCCI wants the head coach to lead the transition period and Fleming is perfect for the job. In addition to being a master tactician, Fleming is known for his excellent people management skills. The way he meshed with Dhoni and handled foreign stars while also being comfortable with budding cricketers doesn't need much explanation.

The Dhoni-Fleming combination has given CSK five titles – the most among all captain-coach combos in the IPL. The 51-year-old played a pivotal role in the leadership transition from Dhoni to Ruturaj Gaikwad ahead of this year's IPL.

With something similar likely to happen in Indian cricket over the next year, Fleming's calmness and exceptional management skills may come in handy.

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