Question marks continue to persist over MS Dhoni’s batting form, but the ‘inspirational leadership’ he showed in Chennai Super Kings’ victory against Rajasthan Royals on Monday makes CSK one of the favorites in IPL 2021, according to experts.
The skipper came in at No.7 on Monday, scoring 18 runs in 17 balls. His strike rate may have been the most modest among middle-order batsmen, but he showed glimpses of genius from behind the stumps in RR’s batting innings. How he predicted Jos Buttler’s wicket, speaking in Hindi with Ravindra Jadeja, has been pointed out by many keen watchers.
Sunil Gavaskar, speaking on Star Sports, said, “The moment the ball was changed after Jos Buttler hit that six and a dry ball came, he said it in Hindi to Jadeja that the next ball will turn and it did turn. (Dhoni) then gave the ball to Moeen Ali. A dry ball for a spinner. Brilliant captaincy. He was spot on with everything — bowling changes, field placements.”
— Rohan Gavaskar (@rohangava9) April 19, 2021
Former West Indies cricketer Brian Lara said Dhoni can “take a rest” from batting and concentrate on leading CSK because the Chennai franchise has a long batting order this season. Lara also said Dhoni’s leadership can even take CSK to the title.
“CSK have got a very good team and a good leader who is inspirational. If he concentrates on that aspect of it, getting every single individual performing, they can go all the way,” Lara said.
‘Dhoni will continue to play at same position’
Meanwhile, there has been disappointment among fans that Dhoni has not pushed himself up the order, coming after Moeen Ali and Ravindra Jadeja and even Sam Curran sometimes in IPL 2021. However, according to experts, it would be futile to expect Dhoni to push himself up in the remaining part of the season too.
“He is extremely practical and pragmatic. He would know where he stands and where others stand. Trust him to take a call, it will not be putting himself above someone else in better form,” said Deep Dasgupta on Star Sports.
Pragyan Ojha added: “Everybody knows MS Dhoni. He knows exactly what he has to do. How ever much people say that he has to come up the order, he will continue to play at the same position.”
Speaking after the victory against RR, former India captain Dhoni said: “I wasn’t guaranteeing performances when I was 24, I can’t guarantee when I am 40, but at least if people can’t point fingers at me that he’s unfit then that will be a big positive for me. I have to keep up with the younger guys, they are very fast, it’s good to challenge them.”
— Chennai Super Kings – Mask P😷du Whistle P🥳du! (@ChennaiIPL) April 19, 2021
Speaking on the sidelines of the match, CSK head coach Stephen Fleming had said: “Dhoni’s form is restoring, every time he gets some balls in the middle he’s going to get better and better.”
CSK will next play Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday. Dhoni, leading CSK for the 201st time, can be expected to bat at a position no higher than 7 once more.