MS Dhoni has been the key factor in Chennai Super Kings’ tremendous success in the 2019 Indian Premier League. His captaincy and magnificent batting have been key in the three-time champions occupying the top spot in the points table. Ahead of the clash against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal, it was supposed to be business as usual for Dhoni’s side. However, the fans at the stadium and the thousands watching on TV were disappointed when Suresh Raina was seen heading out into the coin toss. Later, it emerged that Dhoni was rested for the match due to a back spasm and Raina would lead the side.
Chennai Super Kings clearly struggled without his leadership and they lost by six wickets thanks to aggressive fifties from Jony Bairstow and David Warner. This was the first time after nine years that Dhoni was rested for an IPL game for Chennai Super Kings. In 2010, during the clash against Kolkata Knight Riders, Dhoni was hit on the elbow by a delivery from former New Zealand pacer Shane Bond and was advised 10 days rest. He missed three games in the 2010 season against Delhi Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore. Chennai Super Kings won one game and lost the other two in that season.
Nine years later, Dhoni’s resting for the game against Sunrisers Hyderabad resulted in the team’s third loss. Speaking about Dhoni’s absence, Raina said, “MS Dhoni wanted to take some rest, he'll be back in the next game. He (MS Dhoni) is feeling better. His back was stiff. Probably he will play in the next game against Royal Challengers Bangalore,” Raina said.
The absence of Dhoni and the insipid performance provided a glimpse of how the team’s future will be without their inspirational ‘Thala’. Dhoni’s brilliance as captain and as an individual on the field is what marks Chennai Super Kings as one of the best teams in this competition. Fans would be hoping that Dhoni is back for part two of the Kaveri Derby clash against Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore, currently at the bottom of the table.