At 42, while most cricketers have long since hung up their cleats, MS Dhoni continues to turn heads with his cricketing prowess. In the recent match against the Delhi Capitals in Visakhapatnam, the former Indian captain and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) stalwart lit up the ground, exhibiting why he remains a formidable force in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

A prodigal return to the crease

Dhoni’s explosive batting lit the fuse for CSK’s innings, as he blasted 37 runs off just 16 balls, proving that age is just a number when it comes to his cricketing abilities. This remarkable performance was all the more impressive considering his last session with bat in hand during competitive game was played a year prior, in the 2023 season.

Known for his cool demeanor and tactical acumen, Dhoni’s approach to the game is as unique as it is effective. His training regimen for the IPL is tailored to build his volume early on, a preparation for the grueling season ahead. Importantly, at CSK, there’s a culture of self-regulation, where there are no compulsory training sessions. This setup enables players to assume personal responsibility for their own practice and improvement, epitomized by Dhoni himself.

Stephen Fleming, CSK’s head coach, has shed light on the team’s philosophy, which underscores the importance of players having a crystal-clear plan for their training and improvement. Dhoni embodies this philosophy. His strategy of deliberate planning and training is targeted at understanding his role in the team, identifying the necessary skills to execute that role, and maintaining a fierce quality over quantity approach.

We’re a big believer that as soon as the player wakes up, they’re planning their day and that can be going to practice or not, which is one. Two, if you go to practice, what do you want to achieve? And three, throughout the day, doing things that are going to make you better. Because training is optional, there are things that the players will be doing that will make them better — work maybe on breathing or the mental side of the game, but if they choose to go to training and feel that training’s what they want, they should have a clear plan themselves.

Stephen Fleming, CSK’s head coach

Notably, Dhoni has masterfully navigated the balance between rest, recovery, and on-field performance throughout the IPL season. His method—a blend of self-discipline and strategic practice sessions—has paid dividends, ensuring he remains at the peak of his game whenever he steps on the pitch.

As the IPL 2024 season unfolds, fans and pundits alike will keep their eyes peeled for further displays of Dhoni’s age-defying cricket. The wicketkeeper-batsman’s recent onslaught is a stark reminder that some stars don’t fade; they simply keep shining, match after match, season after season.

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