Appreciation for Mahendra Singh Dhoni the finisher continues to pour in despite the former India skipper having won the game for Chennai Super Kings against Mumbai India two day back with his keen sense of timing and keeping his cool in extremely trying conditions.
Dhoni’s blistering 13-ball unbeaten 28 helped CSK clinch a last-ball thriller against the five-time champions, scoring 16 runs off the last four deliveries to help Chennai win their second game in IPL 2022.
Chasing a modest target of 156 for victory, CSK were in trouble at 16/2 after losing the wickets of Ruturaj Gaikwad (0) and Mitchell Santner (11) early at the DY Patil Stadium on April 21. Robin Uthappa (30) and Ambati Rayudu (40) stitched a partnership of 50 runs for the third wicket, but once they got out, Chennai were back in trouble. Shivam Dube (13) and Ravindra Jadeja (3) didn’t do much.
It was Dwaine Pretorius (22 off 14) and Dhoni (28 not out off 13) who hit important runs and kept CSK in the chase till the last over. CSK needed 17 runs in the last over and Pretorius was trapped leg-before by Jaydev Unadkat off the first ball. DJ Bravo came to bat next and took a single in the second ball of the over, with 16 still to get.
Unadkat erred in length while trying to go full and wide and ended up offering a ball in the slot that Dhoni hit for a straight six in the third ball. The left-arm pacer took the pace off on the next and went short but Dhoni saw that coming, camped back and pulled it to the square leg fence, taking the chase down to 6 off 2 balls.
The veteran batter took 2 runs in the fifth ball, bringing the equation to 4 off 1, which Dhoni polished off with a whip of the wrists on a low full toss that beat the short fine leg fielder to the fence and sealed a memorable three-wicket victory for CSK.
Australian cricketer Chris Lynn hailed Dhoni’s game awareness and said on espncricinfo that, “MS knew where the ball was going to be. The guy is so powerful, he is agile, and even his running between the wickets was very crucial. Talk about belief, just his hunger and his game awareness is the best in the tournament. MS Dhoni is the master. Even though they won the game, he never shows too much emotion. It is his belief and hunger, and he has still got it. You have to give him credit. He is agile, he is competing, and he wants to win,” said Lynn.
“Dhoni has so much passion for cricket. He has so much passion for CSK. The players of that calibre, they will always be at the top and do well and that experience will tell, that’s what he’s doing,” CSK CEO KS Viswanathan said.
Former India cricket team trainer Ramji Srinivasan said Dhoni “has a different mindset” altogether.
“I always believe Dhoni trains like an individual athlete,” said Ramji, who was the India trainer during the 2011 World Cup and 2013 Champions Trophy.
“It is absolutely necessary to trust and believe in your skill and ability to deliver in a crucial time. You need to have that mindset and self-confidence for your body to respond like that. These both are highly interconnected. This aspect is called bio-rhythm, where your mind and body are in total sync,” Ramji added.
Ramji compared Dhoni with tennis great Roger Federer in terms of preparation.
“I would straight away compare Dhoni to Federer. In terms of preparation, you can see a lot of similarity. If you see Federer, he makes things look very easy…his forehand or backhand, his drop shot, serve and volley, serve. Everything looks so easy and effortless. But to make things look so easy, you need twice the hard work that the others are doing and it has to be smart work as well.
“Dhoni is a natural and his fitness is natural. His solid calf muscles and thighs can give enormous amount of power and speed. You see the way he collects the ball and sprints to the stumps and makes a run-out. Or the split, the previous year or the one before the last that he did during his stumping…look at the split. He is naturally strong. He exactly understands that and this is what bio-rhythm is all about. The body listens to his mind and his mind listens to his body. And most importantly, Dhoni trains smartly,” added Ramji.
Skipper Jadeja, expressing his delight with Dhoni’s cameo, said, “It feels good that Mahi bhai is still hungry, he is still in touch, and everybody in the dressing room feels calm knowing he is in the middle and if he stays till the end, definitely he will win the match for us.”