'He never complained' - CSK CEO reveals MS Dhoni's battle with knee injury in IPL 2023
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) CEO Kasi Viswanathan revealed not hearing their great skipper MS Dhoni complain "even once" during the successful IPL 2023 campaign about his persistent knee injury, the troubles of which the legendary cricketer bore until winning the tournament and finally undergoing surgery.
Dhoni went through the knife after regularly practising with the knee-cap and playing CSK's 17 games while withstanding pain and is gradually recovering on his feet, Viswanathan revealed, disclosing he didn't come across any sign of frustration or wish to rest out playing duties from the wicketkeeper-batter.
The former India skipper, who led CSK to their fifth IPL trophy, is "comfortable, happy and recovering", the chief executive said. Dhoni held his strong presence behind the stumps and led the franchise astutely while intermittently chipping in with crucial runs lower down the order.
Right through the season, CSK fans wore a worried outlook for Dhoni's knee injury and feared for him potentially missing out matches, particularly during the business end, including the final in Ahmedabad. But Dhoni played bearing the pain and only opted for the surgery after the season concluded.
CSK CEO raves Dhoni's pain-bearing ability
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Viswanathan raved over MS Dhoni's pain-bearing ability and selfless attitude towards CSK's fortunes, with the victory important for the franchise to retain and emboldened their legacy after facing two disastrous bottom-of-the-pile finish in the previous three seasons.
Viswanathan said there was no question of putting the pragmatic figure under any pressure to continue playing or even query if he wished to rest or not since the communication channels within the set-up are strong and the skipper is given the freedom to express whether he wanted to take the field or not.
"We never asked him things like 'do you want to play or do you want to sit out.' If he can't, he would've told us straightaway. We knew it was a struggle for him to play, but his commitment to the team, his leadership and how the team benefits everyone knows. From that perspective, you have to appreciate him," CSK CEO told ESPNcricinfo.
"Till the final, he never complained about his knee to anybody. Though everyone knew, and you would've seen him struggling while running, he never complained even once. After the final, he said, 'okay, I'll have a surgery.' He's finished his surgery, he's quite happy, he's recovering," he added.
The chief executive says CSK are confident Dhoni would've prepared the right timeline for his recovery and will be making all efforts to potentially feature in IPL 2024 after making his intentions quite clear upon winning the finale against Gujarat Titans (GT).
"Actually, he told us immediately after the final is over he'll fly to Mumbai, have surgery and go back to Ranchi for rehab," Viswanathan said. "In Mumbai, after Ruturaj's wedding [on June 4], I visited him."
"It was a courtesy call. He's quite comfortable. He said he'll rest for three weeks and then start his rehab. And like he said, he's not going to play until January-February. We don't need to remind him about all that."