Dhoni concedes CSK were ‘a batter light’; impressed with Pathirana and Choudhary

Chennai Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni conceded at the conclusion of the team’s campaign in IPL 2022 that the defending champions were “a batter light”, adding that Sri Lankan pacer Matheesha Pathirana and 25-year-old quick Mukesh Choudhary were the finds of the season for the four-time champions.

CSK dished out another below-par performance against Rajasthan Royals at the Brabourne Stadium in their last league game on Friday, losing by five wickets despite all-rounder Moeen Ali (93 off 57 balls) giving them a fairy-tale start and the platform to aim for a 200-plus score. In the end, some inept batting by the middle and lower order saw the side manage just 150/6 in 20 overs.

Dhoni agreed that CSK should have a slightly deeper batting line-up.

“What we need to realise is we’re playing a batter light. Once we lost those quick wickets, Moeen had to change his momentum. I feel if one of the batters had batted with him, he could have continued his momentum. It gives liberty for the batsmen coming in to play their shots or play whatever their game is.

“I feel the role and responsibility got slightly swapped when we lost those wickets and that made it really difficult. So a batter light with the last four not really known for their batting. If we had gone hard and lost another wicket there, we wouldn’t have got anything that we would look to defend.

“I would say we were 10-15 runs short. But of course you need to bowl well after that. If their (RR) openers get going and if they get too many in the first six, then 180 also is not enough. Depending on whatever the par score is, the start is important, the first six overs especially on wickets that are really nice. So I feel definitely 15 runs short,” said Dhoni.

Expressing confidence in the young quick bowlers, the skipper said that whenever they’d got the opportunity, they had tried to maximise the gains.

“Whatever games they have got, they have learned a lot from it. One of the biggest examples is Mukesh (Choudhary). He has played all the games but what is impressive is to see from the first game till the last game how he has improved, how he can bowl at the death. Still, yes, what he will do is go back and learn out of the outings he has got. That’s what we really want from players. Once they have got that experience, what is important, next year once they turn up for IPL is that they shouldn’t start from scratch again.

“It’s important to remember in their mind what really happened in IPL, what strengths they developed, what are the thinking when you are under pressure. That is what is needed from the youngsters and most of them have made the most of whatever chance they have got.

“Other than that, our Malinga (Matheesha Pathirana), he’s really good. It’s difficult to pick him and I feel he will definitely contribute next year for us in a big way.”

Dhoni rued the fact that the players did well in patches, while in a tournament like the IPL, the entire team needs to fire.

“We have done well in patches but what is important is to keep doing well as a team. One of the ways is one of the individuals keeps doing well in every game and others contribute. But I feel the crucial thing is whenever you get an opportunity, once you are in, make sure you make the most of it whether you are a bowler or a batter and keep learning. It’s not a one-year tournament. You keep coming back year after year. So once you keep learning and once you’re matured, that’s when you capitalise and be a big IPL player for the next 10-12 years. That’s what is really needed from youngsters.”

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