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Will MS Dhoni play in the Indian Premier League next year?

Dhoni, however, will not have until next season to decide on his future. With the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) expected to announce a policy for retention soon, Dhoni and the franchise must make a decision by the deadline for announcing retentions. While there is some time before the deadline, it is not much. They may have time till November.

Dhoni did not discuss his future after the match against Royal Challengers Bengaluru at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday night. He took the first flight home to Ranchi from Bengaluru on Sunday morning. At some stage, Dhoni may have a one-on-one chat with N Srinivasan, but during the current season, he is believed to have met the CSK owner only once. They may have had conversations regularly though.

Insiders and those who have some inkling about the situation say the big question of whether he will play or not will depend on his fitness. Many CSK members, including head coach Stephen Fleming, said that Dhoni played the season with the discomfort of constant and nagging pain. Despite this, Dhoni played all 14 games and batted in different positions, scoring 161 runs at an average of over 53. However, Dhoni's value to CSK and IPL goes beyond the numbers.

Some insiders say that Srinivasan has some plans for the franchise and there may be a move at some stage by the CSK management to delink the franchise from India Cements, the company that owns it. In such a case, Dhoni's role could change. What it will be, of course, is up to Dhoni and Srinivasan. He could well become a mentor if he decides not to play.

"I think this is it. I do believe that this will be the last time that MS Dhoni will play. Certainly, it won't be the last time that we see MS Dhoni. I'd be very surprised if he doesn't mentor or be a part of the CSK family in an official capacity," Matthew Hayden, a former CSK player who knows the franchise management well, told Star Sports.

"I don't think this is his last game. I just don't see him wanting to end on this note. He looked a little frustrated, even when he got out. That's very unlike MS Dhoni, he just wanted to qualify and finish on a high. But you never know with MS Dhoni, he might come back next year," Ambati Rayudu, another CSK player who is close to the franchise management told the same channel.

However, CSK decision-makers want him to continue. "The way he batted, he can surely continue," Viswanathan said. "But it will be up to him." Dhoni hit 13 sixes this season.

If, like last time, the BCCI allows only four retentions with a maximum of three Indians, CSK's retentions could well be Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ravindra Jadeja. Yes, Jadeja -- the franchise has resolved all issues with the all-rounder, and Jadeja is believed to be very much on board. The third Indian could be Dhoni, should he agree, although not necessarily in that order. If not, it could be Shivam Dube or a foreign player. Sri Lankan slinger Matheesha Pathirana will, however, not be let go of, a CSK insider confirmed.

There is a lot of speculation over the number of retentions and potential Right To Match (RTM) options. The BCCI will discuss with the owners before making a decision. Among the owners and franchises, views vary widely, with some wanting as many as eight retentions and some as few as none. So, it will be some time before one will know about Dhoni's future at Chennai Super Kings but not too long.


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