CHENNAI: MS Dhoni has always been a risk-taker and even at the fag end of his playing career, he isn’t shy of taking one. In fact it was one such risk that he took on Sunday against Delhi Capitals that paved the way for Chennai Super Kings to make the IPL final.
Despite struggling with the bat through the tournament, the CSK captain decided to promote himself ahead of the in-form Ravindra Jadeja with 24 to get off 11 balls. It seemed like a gamble to most while coach Stephen Fleming left it at “He looked in the eye and said he wanted to go in”. But like most of Dhoni’s famous decisions like promoting himself in the 2011 World Cup final ahead of Yuvraj Singh or bowling Joginder Sharma in the final over of the 2007 T20 final, there was a method in his madness.
Dhoni’s recent struggles have been mostly against spin and according to sources, had there been a chance of any spinner bowling in the last two overs, he wouldn’t have gone in. “Dhoni is playing pacers quite well in practice as well…His problem has been spin, more specifically wrist spin and mystery spin. But yesterday (Sunday) he knew there would be no spinners bowling at the time he went into bat,” the source said.
The skipper himself gave a more simplistic explanation of his decision saying he “wasn’t thinking much”. “Yes, my innings was a crucial one. Delhi has a very good bowling attack and they exploited the conditions well, so we knew it would be tough. I’ve not done a lot in the tournament, so wanted to look for the ball and see what the bowler can do. But I wasn’t thinking too much because if you think too much while batting then you mess your plans up,” Dhoni said.
One understands that Dhoni felt he has the power to clear the long boundary off pacer Avesh Khan, which he did in the fifth ball of the 19th over. And the CSK team management had deduced in the dug-out that medium-pacer Tom Curran would be bowling the last over.
“We knew Delhi Capitals won’t risk Kagiso Rabada in the last over because the chances of the ball flying off the edge over the fence would have been more. Dhoni had his plans for Curran and he executed those perfectly,” the source added.
The team celebrated their ninth entry into the final after Dhoni got his finishing touch back and coach Stephen Fleming felt it was “emotionally great” for the team.
“We wish him (well) every time he goes out, we know the pressure that he is under and the expectations that is on him every time he goes out and once again he came up trumps. It was emotional in the changing room, that’s very important. Also, the captain had an opportunity to do that for us,” said Fleming.
Despite the Sunday high, it is not a given that Dhoni would promote himself ahead of Jadeja or Dwayne Bravo in the final.
If there is a chance of a spinner bowling at the death, the CSK skipper may well leave it to his protégé Jadeja to do the job. “It is absolutely a case of reacting to situations and we will have to see who we are up against,” the source added.