Dhoni understood a long time ago, cricket is important but it’s not everything: Zaheer Khan

New Delhi: Former India fast bowler Zaheer Khan has expressed his views on Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s interests beyond cricket, and said that the World Cup winning captain understood a long time ago that “cricket is important but it’s not everything”.

Dhoni is all set to lead CSK in the 17th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), starting from March 22. The 42-year-old has been leading the side since the league’s inaugural edition in 2008.

“When you’re playing, switching off (from the game) is very important. Cricket is not everything. Every cricketer has to face this eventually. When you step away from the game, you may not have a lot of options. We’ve seen many athletes struggle after retiring because they gave everything to the game, and when they left it, they didn’t know what to do,” Zaheer said on the episode of JioCinema’s Legends Lounge.

“In this sense, MS Dhoni understood a long time ago that he is passionate about cricket and it is an integral part of his life. But it couldn’t be everything. He keeps doing things outside of the sport. For example, his interest in bikes. He’s always researching them,” he added.

Under Dhoni’s captaincy, CSK made it to the IPL playoffs twelve times in fourteen seasons they played, which solidified their status as a consistent challenger for the IPL trophy. The Dhoni-led side shares a record of most title victories (5 times) in the tournament’s history with the Mumbai Indians (MI).

Meanwhile, former cricketer Suresh Raina, while speaking on succession planning at CSK, said that he would love to see Dhoni play in the IPL for another five years.

“The biggest question is who’ll be their next captain? Even if Dhoni stepped away as captain, he’ll be in the dugout whether it’s as a mental toughness coach or just for his presence. But the question is, who is he going to nurture? This is a pivotal year for CSK. Who does MS have his eyes on? Ruturaj Gaikwad is a good option,” said Raina.

“This year is a very important year for CSK, more than for MS Dhoni. Because we’ll see who he is going to select as his deputy and probably say: ‘You handle this now, I’ve been looking after the team since 2008. You take care of the yellow, I will wear the jersey and sit in the dressing room’.

“It’s important now to see how he plans for the future. He’s 42 years old. I would love to see him play for five more years, or at least two or three more years,” he added.

The defending champions CSK will lock horns with Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) in the tournament opener at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Friday.


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