There are still plenty of doubts over MS Dhoni’s batting credentials in Tests. Pundits wonder whether his technique in the most testing of all formats can stand the test of time. The signs weren’t encouraging from what was on show in Australia and England. However, when it comes to the shortest formats, he is undoubtedly a great. One of the best finishers the game has ever seen in ODIs, Dhoni’s game is perfectly suited to the T20 version. This talent of his was on display yet again on Thursday at Chepauk.
Chasing a competitive total set by Sunrisers Hyderabad, Dhoni walked into bat when the game was evenly poised. In fact, the visitors actually held the upper hand after they dismissed Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja cheaply, both of them also eating up crucial deliveries. This is where Dhoni’s genius came to the fore. Every time Dhoni finds himself in such a tight spot, we wonder whether the Indian skipper would finally succumb to the pressure. However, that occasion rarely ever comes, and Dhoni managed to pull off the incredible on Thursday as well. It is amazing how calm Dhoni remained under pressure even as deliveries were going by without any runs being scored at the other end.
It was the consistency with which Dhoni found the boundaries that was most stunning about the big-hitter’s knock on Friday. His attack on Dale Steyn was particularly telling. Everyone is aware that Steyn is Sunrisers’ most lethal weapon, but Dhoni was good enough to get the better of him as well, which speaks volumes of his ability in this format. Some of the sixes he hit off Steyn made one wonder whether this was indeed one of the fastest bowlers in the world with the ball in hand. Such was Dhoni supremacy.
Of course, Sunrisers had their luck in their own hands. Amit Mishra dropping Dhoni off Steyn proved very expensive for them in the end. In fact, it actually made the difference between victory and defeat. There were some bizarre decisions made by the Sunrisers’ skipper Cameron White, which also did not help the team’s cause in any way. The ploy to promote Mishra up the order was a big blunder. He wasted precious deliveries at a time when quick runs were the order of the day. The tactic to give the last over to the unheralded Ashish Reddy also did not seem a logical one.
In spite of the loss, Sunrisers had their moments in the match. Shikhar Dhawan made a blistering unbeaten half-century at the top of the innings and Ashish Reddy played quite a brilliant cameo to take his side to a challenging score. With the ball as well, they were very much in the game till the last couple of overs. However, the fact that they couldn’t find a way past ‘Mr. Cool’ Dhoni proved to be their undoing.
Turning point of the game: Dhoni’s six in the last over, which brought the equation down to 8runs from 4 balls.
--By A Cricket Analyst