Chennai Super Kings on Thursday became the first team to confirm their place in the Indian Premier League (IPL 2021) play-offs as they beat SunRisers Hyderabad by 6 wickets in Sharjah. While the bowlers and the opening batsmen laid the foundation of the win, what must have been most heartening to see for the CSK fans and dugout is the fact that captain MS Dhoni stayed till the end and finished the match off in style with a trademark six. CSK were in a spot of bother towards the fag end of their chase as SRH struck back with a flurry of wickets. Dhoni walked in with the score on 108/4 after 15.5 overs as CSK needed 27 run to win in 25 deliveries with two new batsmen at the crease.
Both Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu have not been in the best of form this season and with the SRH bowlers varying their pace well on a sluggish surface, there could have been a late twist in the tale. Dhoni had several discussions with Rayudu at the centre of the pitch to calm the nerves down even as the gap between bat and bowl kept increasing gradually.
But Dhoni’s calm presence at the other end helped Rayudu to come into his own as he slammed a boundary in the 18th over bowled by Siddarth Kaul and then hit a a massive six on the second delivery of the crucial 19th over bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar to bring CSK to the doorsteps of victory. Dhoni kept his end of the bargain as he hit a boundary as well to ensure CSK needed just three runs off the last over.
Kaul gave away just a single off the first three deliveries of the final over and CSK needed 2 runs to win off 3 balls. Dhoni turned the clock back as he hit Kaul for a huge six over deep mid-wicket to seal the win for CSK and a spot in the play-offs.
Speaking to host broadcasters Star Sports after the match, former England captain Kevin Pietersen opined that if Dhoni can finish matches from now on then other teams, who are gunning for the title, should be very worried.
“He has done it for so many years and he keeps doing it and doing it. What this does do and should do now is strike fear in the opposition. If he starts doing this now, and he has actually not been in form with the bat for two seasons, so if he starts doing this now – then they have one hand on the trophy. They are a serious outfit, and in these conditions, on wickets that aren’t very good they are a serious outfit, Pietersen said about Dhoni showing signs of being the finisher that people have know him to be.
“They have got the Hazlewood effect and the Jadeja effect. The openers that contribute and if Dhoni now starts coming in at that number and finishes games off then Delhi – bit of a problem,” he added.
Former India captain and batting legend Sunil Gavaskar was happy to see Dhoni finish games like he has done throughout his career.
“He does it so often isn’t it. He takes it to the last over. The supporters are biting their nails but they are also aware that he is going to do it. But there is still that anxiety and well he has done it again. How often have we seen him do that,” Gavaskar said.
CSK are on top of the IPL table currently with 18 points from 12 matches.
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