Will IPL 2023 final be MS Dhoni's swansong?

Chennai Super Kings qualified for Sunday's title match after win over Gujarat Titans in first qualifier

Chennai Super Kings' Mahendra Singh Dhoni will lead his team in the IPL 2023 final on Sunday. Getty
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This year's Indian Premier League has exceeded all expectations, delivering one of the most keenly contested battles for play-off spots.

That has subsequently driven viewership numbers to new heights and firmly established the tournament as a marquee event in sport.

But as good as the cricket has been, it is the star players who have fuelled the craze. And none more so than veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni, along with superstar Virat Kohli.

Dhoni quit international cricket four years ago but his fame has only grown since, having put all his energies into a team that seemingly starts and ends with him – Chennai Super Kings.

Chennai have enjoyed overwhelming crowd support wherever they have played, with yellow jerseys dominating the stands home and away. And Dhoni is the main reason behind it.

Not just that, three of the top four games with the highest concurrent viewership this IPL involved Chennai, and more so when Dhoni has come out to bat.

Dhoni's Super Kings eased past defending champions Gujarat Titans in the first qualifier in Chennai on Tuesday to make it to Sunday's final – their 10th appearance in a title match.

As incredible as the achievement is, there is a growing belief that this could be Dhoni's last game for the franchise that has become his family.

Dhoni, 41, has been playing despite nursing a serious knee injury that has forced him to bat lower down the order and for no more than two overs. He has been thanking the fans and reminiscing about his journey at various venues in his post-match speeches, hinting at this possibly being his last IPL.

On Tuesday, Dhoni said he will wait until the auctions for the 2024 IPL in December to take a decision on his playing career.

"I don't know, I have eight, nine months to decide," Dhoni said when asked by presenter Harsha Bhogle whether the play-off match was his last at home.

"The mini-auction will be around December, so why to take the headache right now. I have ample time to decide," he said.

"I will always be there for CSK whether in playing form or sitting somewhere. I don't really know. But frankly it takes a heavy toll. I have been out of home from January, been practising since March, so we will see."

If Sunday's final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad turns out to be Dhoni's last, he will retire as the most successful captain in cricket having won every major title in all formats at senior level.

Updated: May 24, 2023, 11:18 AM