Describing himself as an "annoying skipper," Mahendra Singh Dhoni said months of intense preparation for the IPL has taken a "heavy toll" on him and that he would take a call on his retirement in eight to nine months.
There have been speculations that 2023 could be a swansong season for Dhoni, who has led Chennai Super Kings to their 10th IPL final with a 15-run win over Gujarat Titans in the Qualifier 1 here on Tuesday.
"Frankly, it takes a heavy toll. I have been out of home for literally four months," Dhoni said at the post-match presentation after winning the last game of the season at Chepauk.
"I will always come to CSK. I have been out of home from January, been practicing since March, so we will see," he added.
"January 31 was when I got out of the house, finished my work, and started practicing from 2nd or 3rd of March. It takes a lot, but I have ample time to decide."
"I don't know... I have 8-9 months to decide. Why take that headache now. I have ample time to decide. The auction is in December," the 41-year-old said.
Personally, Dhoni has had a quiet season with the bat, managing just 104 runs from 15 matches at an average of 34.67, and was also seen struggling with his knee especially while running between the wickets.
The World Cup-winning captain, however, has not missed a match this season. After CSK's final league game, he was also seen wearing a brace.
"I will always be there for CSK, whether that is in the playing form or sitting somewhere outside...I don't really know."
The four-time champions, who had finished at the ninth spot in 2022, dished out a commanding performance to outclass Gujarat Titans.
"I think IPL is too big to say it is another final. It is 10 teams it is even tougher, it is hard work of more than two months, lots of characters, everybody has contributed, middle order didn't get ample opportunity but very happy to be where we are.
"I won't say it is just another final. It is hard work of more than two months because of which we are standing over here. Lot of character shown by the individuals, from where we started to where we are, and I feel everybody has contributed.
"Yes, the middle order has not got ample opportunity, but in between everybody has got a chance to chip in and they have done that," Dhoni said.
"GT are a fantastic team and they've chased very well, so the thought was to get them in. But it was a good toss to lose. If Jaddu gets conditions that help him, he's very difficult to hit. His bowling changed the game. Not to forget his partnership with Moeen."
'An annoying captain'
One of the best captains to have played the game, Dhoni said he can be an "annoying" skipper as he too often keeps changing his bowlers and fielders.
"You see the wicket, you see conditions, and you keep adjusting the field. I can be an annoying captain because I change the field every time.
"It can be annoying but I believe in my gut feel. That's why I keep telling the fielders to keep an eye on me."
On the number of fast bowlers coming out of CSK stable, Dhoni said: "We try to create an environment and work out what is the strength of a fast bowler. We try to give them confidence and tell them 'please try to explore your bowling'.
"We try to motivate them as much as possible. Support staff is there, Bravo and Eric are there."
We conceded 15 extra runs: Hardik Pandya
GT conceded 35 off the last three overs and skipper Hardik Pandya blamed the bowlers for giving away 15 runs extra by bowling "soft balls".
"I think we were quite spot on, but we made basic errors. The kind of bowlers we had, we conceded 15 extra runs," he said.
"A lot of things, we did right. We bowled a couple of soft balls in between. We gave some runs. We don't need to look much into it. We have one more game."
Asked if Dhoni made it look like a bigger total, Pandya said: "That's the beauty about him (Dhoni), with his mind and the way he uses the bowlers, it feels like he's adding 10 runs.
"We kept losing wickets, he kept changing the bowlers, credit to him. Would be nice to meet him on Sunday. We expected dew would come, it didn't come. We didn't do right in both the departments. We'll give a crack again after two days."