The Indian Premier League Governing Council cleared the path for MS Dhoni to make a return to the Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2018, with the franchise making a return to the tournament after a two year ban. The council decided in a meeting on Wednesday that CSK and Rajasthan Royals, who were suspended for two years over alleged spot-fixing charges, will be allowed to retain the players which were on their roster in 2015.
In a statement after the meeting, BCCI acting President Amitabh Choudhary said, “An IPL Franchise is eligible to secure up to 5 players by virtue of a combination of Player Retention (Pre Player Auction) and Right to Match (RTM) (During the Player Auction). The player pool available for CSK and RR for retention/RTM will be the players’ who played for them respectively in IPL 2015 and who were part of RPS and Gujarat Lions squads in IPL 2017.”
In this case, ‘RTM’ refers to a franchise’s ‘right to match’ the highest bidder for a player at the Indian Premier League auction. Additionally, the IPL governing council has also hiked the salary budget of the franchises, from Rs 66 crore to Rs 80 crore for the auction next year, which is tentatively set to be held in February. The BCCI stated, “The minimum spend will be 75 per cent of the salary cap for each season.”
MS Dhoni was synonymous with Chennai Super Kings for the eight consecutive years that the franchise took part in the IPL before their ban, and there is every possibility that he will make a return in IPL 2018. CSK can opt to retain him through any of the ways mentioned above, and it will be interesting to see if it actually comes to fruition from a cricketing point of view. However, there is no denying that in terms of emotional connect, Dhoni will be one of the first names on the team sheet when the IPL auction comes around in February.