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Is MS Dhoni worth the price?

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Team Chennai captain MS Dhoni has been the face of the Indian T20 League since being bought by the three-time champions for INR 6 crore ahead of the inaugural season in 2008. The former Indian cricket team captain’s stock has been on a rise ever since despite a slump in form in recent years.

But it is not only about batting, isn’t it? His keen eye for details and decision making has made him one of the greatest captains this sport has ever seen, and thus it does not come as a surprise when he became the first player to earn a whopping INR 150 crore in salary from the Indian T20 League. 

MS Dhoni was an absolute force to reckon with during his initial years in the Indian T20 League, averaging more than 40 in the first two seasons of the competition. He wasn’t amongst runs in 2010, but he went on to deliver Chennai’s first title that year. The subsequent season saw him getting an increment of INR 2.28 crore, raising his salary to INR 8.28 crore and he duly repaid the trust by guiding his team to the second title in as many years.

Lack of competitive cricket in recent years however has culminated in a potential downfall of the Chennai captain. The 2020 edition of the Indian T20 League was arguably his worst season, as he scored a mere 200 runs at a measly average of 25.00 as Chennai finished seventh in the standings. MS Dhoni’s auction price was Rs 15 crore.

That means, each MS Dhoni run in the Indian T20 League last year came at a price of Rs 7.5 lakhs. In contrast, leading run-scorer KL Rahul cost Punjab about Rs 1.6 lakhs per run. And KL can keep wickets too.

The former India captain played last year’s Indian T20 League after a gap of more than a year, with his previous assignment coming in the 2019 ICC World Cup semi-final.

Has the legacy of MS Dhoni lived long enough to watch himself become the villain? Well, this may well and truly be a harsh assessment of someone who guided India to several glories, but it sure seems like it, as his tenure in the ICC World Cup in England was marred by slow innings and several dot balls.

Regardless of all that though, the Chennai hierarchy has never shied away from putting their trust in Dhoni, who now earns a whopping INR 15 crore per season. He has been earning the amount since Chennai returned to the Indian T20 League fold in 2018 after a two-year ban.

The ‘Thala’ of Team Chennai, MS Dhoni will leave a lasting legacy even in the Indian T20 League when he finally decides to hang his boots. A player with the most number of appearances - 205 and counting - in the competition now sees the future taking over as the likes of Rishabh Pant, who captains Team Delhi, and KL Rahul, captaining Team Punjab, have upped the ante in the past few years.

As far as Chennai are concerned, it seems like the three-time champions are not ready to accept the life beyond MS Dhoni as suggested by their CEO Kasi Viswanathan. 

“I don’t think it is going to be his final year. This is my personal view and I don’t think we are looking at anybody now,” Viswanathan told the Indian Express. 

But maybe it is high time to do the contrary and invest the extravagant amount somewhere else because let’s face the fact; Dhoni isn’t bringing anything else apart from commercial deities to Chennai.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Manjunath Kiran

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