For 15 long years, MS Dhoni has been synonymous with the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), having captained the Tamil Nadu-based outfit to four titles in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

But there comes a time in every cricketer’s life when he has to let go of things he loves the most. Has Dhoni’s time to part ways with CSK’s captaincy finally come?

It has been a season to forget both for MS Dhoni and the CSK.

The former champions currently occupy the ninth position in the table, 2 points ahead of the mighty Mumbai Indians (MI), as they have only succeeded in winning four matches this season.

On the other hand, Dhoni has seen all the drama that he could have seen this year vis-à-vis the captaincy.

Before the start of the tournament, the ex-India skipper stepped down as the captain, handing the reins of the side to his trusted lieutenant Ravindra Jadeja.

But as the team failed to get going, and lost almost all their matches under Jadeja’s leadership, the India all-rounder chose to relinquish his role.

MS Dhoni was back as skipper but not before reports flew thick and fast that CSK’s management had a fallout with Jadeja.

One theory even suggested Dhoni’s hand in Jadeja leaving CSK’s captaincy as the southpaw’s form had taken a beating.

Rumours of a rift between Jadeja, Dhoni, and CSK’s management intensified further when the left-arm spinner was unfollowed by the team’s social media handles.

While there’s no doubt that it has been an eventful IPL for CSK, it would be hard to see the Men in Yellow without Dhoni as the captain next year.

After all, Dhoni has been the central figure around whom CSK revolved around all these years.

Dhoni will not just be missed as a captain but as a wicketkeeper, finisher, and shrewd tactician as well.

There’s little doubt that Dhoni’s powers as a batsman are on the wane and he could no longer be trusted to guide them in the death overs, the one area where his absence will be felt for long is in the field.

The way MS Dhoni marshalled his troops in the middle was a sight to behold – from motivating the bowlers from behind to making plans to get the opposition batters out to lifting the spirits in the camp, especially when the chips were down – the Ranchi-born cricketer was outstanding in almost every department.

Friday’s game against the Rajasthan Royals (RR) could bring an end to an era in Indian cricket as who knows it could be the last time we all could be seeing him captain a team.

Dhoni may have decided against hanging his boots, but the time is ripe for him to hand over the mantle of the side to a youngster who is as calm as him.

He’s 40 and going to be 41 in around a month and a half, and with CSK looking like an aging fleet, it is the right time to put some fresh blood into the team.

Dhoni did try to make a smooth transition by handing the captaincy to Jadeja but that decision misfired and now he will have to think it through about who could be the right man to lead the team at this stage.

His former India mate, Virender Sehwag could have made his job easier though as according to him Ruturaj Gaikwad is the apt person to take charge of the team.

Sehwag even gave his reasons for his choice as he claimed that the opening batter is like Dhoni on the field.

Like Dhoni, he hardly gives anything away with his demeanour and also remains as cool as ice in pressure cooker situations.

Sehwag even backed him to stay CSK captain for a prolonged period, per NDTV Sports:

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“He captains Maharashtra. He plays very quietly. It’s like even if he scored a century, it won’t show in his mannerisms. Even if he scores a 0, you will see the same demeanor. You can’t tell from his face if he is happy about scoring a hundred or sad about getting out for a duck. He has control, he is calm. He has all the qualities needed to be a good captain,” Sehwag said on Cricbuzz.

But any cricket team’s captaincy is like a thorn in the flesh in India.

For a team like CSK which has tasted so much success in the elite T20 competition, it won’t be an easy choice to make, especially after the experience of the Jadeja episode.

Filling the big shoes of MS Dhoni would be no mean task, but change is the only constant.

MS Dhoni confirmed at the toss against RR that he will be back next season, but whether he will remain as captain or not remains to be seen.

Knowing the selfless cricketer he is, it won’t be a surprise if he chose his successor and then took a mentorship role in the CSK support staff.

Coming back to MS Dhoni’s last innings in this year’s IPL, the right-hander made a slow 26 off 28 balls against RR at the Brabourne Stadium.

But the legendary cricketer managed to hang in there alongside Moeen Ali, who made a quick-fire 93 off 57 balls to help Chennai post a total of 150/6 in the first innings.