Chennai Super Kings head coach Stephan Fleming has said that it is the right time for M.S Dhoni to relinquish the captaincy as the franchise is better prepared for it unlike in 2022 when he handed over the reins to star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja.

CSK had announced Jadeja as Dhoni's successor for the 2022 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) but the transition was unsuccessful as CSK lost six of their first eight matches and Jadeja had to eventually step down and Dhoni took over the charge again. The next year, Dhoni led CSK to their fifth IPL title.

On Thursday, the five-time IPL winner sprung a surprise by naming right-handed opener Ruturaj Gaikwad as their new captain for the upcoming IPL 2024 season, leaving him big shoes to fill as he takes over from a legend.

Claiming that it was Dhoni's call to hand over the captaincy to the 27-year-old right-handed opener from Pune, Maharashtra, Fleming said they have been on a captain-grooming plan for the last couple of years.

"It was MS [Dhoni's decision] with a lot of consideration and one view to the future on the back of a good season last year," Fleming said at the press conference ahead of their opening match against Royal Challengers Bengaluru on Thursday.

"The timing was good. Behind the scenes, Ruturaj and others have been on a, say, a captaincy-grooming process, looking forward to days like this and the opportunities come up, but MS is the best judge and he felt the time was right," said Fleming.

Fleming said that the attempted transition in 2022 seems to left CSK better prepared for a new captain.

"Well, the big thing about a couple of years ago was that we probably weren't ready for MS to move aside," Fleming said. "And what that did was probably shake us as a leadership group or coaches into looking at the possibility when he does go. And up until that stage, it was almost unthinkable, but it sowed the seed. So, we've worked pretty hard on making sure that any mistakes that were made during then aren't made again. And that the leadership isn't a secret," he said.

He said Dhoni will be grooming Gaikwad as he continues to be with the team as a player.

"It'll be a grooming process for Ruturaj. I am expecting MS to play and play well. His body is a lot better than last year as is his knee. The desire to play and do well is like always. When you see a young player come through and lead, it's always a good feeling,” said Fleming, who became New Zealand's youngest captain at 23 years and 321 days in the third Test against England in the 1996-97 series.

CSK will open their campaign in the 2024 edition with a clash with Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Friday.

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