MS Dhoni has admitted to feeling "a little different" when asked about the prospect of representing a new franchise in the IPL after eight years of association with Chennai Super Kings.
"I would be lying if I say I have moved on," Dhoni was quoted as saying by PTI at the jersey launch of his new team, the Rising Pune Supergiants. "That is the special part of being a human being. There has got to be an emotional connect after eight years (with CSK). After eight years of IPL, it feels very different to play for any other team.
"All of a sudden if you want me to say that I am very excited to play for a new team, don't give credit to CSK and the fans for the love and affection they have given us, it will be wrong. But as a professional, I would like to thank the Pune team for taking me. Of course there will be added responsibility as captain but as a professional we are supposed to do the job with more than 100% commitment. And that is what we will try to do."
The one relationship he is happy to continue from his days with the Super Kings, though, is his working partnership with Stephen Fleming, who was named head coach last month. "The life becomes slightly easy with him around. We know each other for long time," he said. "He is a fantastic coach. His management skills are very good. What I really like is that he is calm like me. It is good to have him and hopefully it will work for us."
Dhoni said while he would miss playing alongside his core group of players like Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Brendon McCullum at Pune, the two new teams had to put that behind them and quickly get into their groove with the new set of players to negate the settled advantage the six existing franchises possess.
"There are a lot of players we will miss," he said. "We were together for eight years, our core group was the same. We were so consistent and our strength was that we played as a team. We have taken some former CSK players but then at the auction, the two new teams were expected to do most of the buying. If you look at the six other franchisees, they have a settled lot. Therefore, the pressure will be on the new franchise."
As the questions drifted towards a few of his own personnel, Dhoni said every player in the setup will be given a role, even as he deflected suggestions over having difficulties in managing a player like Kevin Pietersen. "Every player will have a role in the team. There is a basic way every cricketer plays," he said. "KP is fantastic, somebody who is aggressive and expressive on the field. Not only has that, he like other seniors, had an added responsibility to groom the youngsters."