Former India opener Gautam Gambhir wasn’t impressed with Mahendra Singh Dhoni batting at seven during Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) 16-run defeat against the Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).
Chasing a massive total of 217, CSK witnessed a mini middle-order collapse and Dhoni came to bat only in the 14th over. Despite a required rate of over 12, the CSK skipper did not play his shots and instead, gave the responsibility entirely to Faf du Plessis at the other end.
“I was a bit surprised, to be honest. MS Dhoni batting at number seven? And sending Gaikwad before him, Sam Curran before him. (It) makes no sense to me. In fact, you should be leading from the front. And this is not what you call leading from the front. Batting at number seven when you’re chasing what 217? The game was over. Faf was probably the lone warrior,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Gambhir as saying.
With du Plessis playing the role of a lone ranger with his 37-ball 72, his efforts were nullified by the lack of intent of other batsmen. Dhoni, meanwhile, did show what he was still capable of with three back to back maximums in the last over. But they proved to be ‘too little, too late’.
“Yes, you can talk about MS Dhoni’s last over when he hit three sixes, but it was of no use to be honest. It was just all personal runs. See, if someone else would have done this, some other captain had batted number seven, he would have got a lot of flak,” said Gambhir.
“It is MS Dhoni – probably (that’s) why people don’t talk about it. When you don’t have Suresh Raina, you’re making people believe that Sam Curran is better than you. You’re making people believe that Ruturaj Gaikwad, Curran, Kedar Jadhav, Faf du Plessis, M Vijay, all these guys are better than you,” he added.
Dhoni, who scored 29 off 17 balls on Tuesday, however, defended his decision to bat down the order, saying he had not batted in a very long time.
“I haven’t batted for a long time; 14-day quarantine doesn’t help,” the 39-year-old said after the game. “Also wanted to try different things, give opportunities to Sam. Have the opportunity to try different things. If it doesn’t work, you can always go back to your strengths. Faf adapted very well. Something the batsmen will do, neglect square leg and go more towards long-on and long-off.”
Meanwhile, Sanju Samson, with a blistering 32-ball knock of 74 runs, was the start of the night for the Royals. He was ably supported by skipper Steve Smith’s gritty innings of 69 runs off 47 balls and Jofra Archer’s fiery 8-ball cameo of 27 runs in the last over.
Rahul Tewatia with 3/37 was the pick of the bowlers as 2008 IPL champions successfully defended the 216 they had put on the board at the Sharjah International Stadium.