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Irresponsible cricket: Dhoni

- Explosive KXIP set up date with Knights

Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was scathing in his criticism of the team’s insipid bowling and spineless batting, especially by the quartet of overseas specialist batsmen, that led to their 24-run loss in the high-scoring Qualifier 2, at the Wankhede, on Saturday.

“There was some very irresponsible cricket from some of the most experienced international cricketers. In a pressure match like this…

“When the stakes are high, you can’t commit such mistakes… I had belief in my bowling that they will let the KXIP score more than 200 runs!” Dhoni, who is widely revered for his calmness and composure, said at the post-match presentation.

Virender Sehwag flattened the Super Kings attack with a 58-ball 122, which propelled his side to an imposing 226 for six. KXIP then survived a stiff challenge from Suresh Raina, who responded with a majestic 25-ball 87.

The Super Kings were 100 for 2 after six overs. It was the highest Powerplay score in T20 cricket. Raina was batting on 87 off 25 balls. The asking rate, which had been 11.35 at the start of the chase, was now 9.07.

It looked as if only a run-out could end Raina's innings. And this was exactly what happened, following a smart piece of captaincy and an even smarter piece of fielding, both from George Bailey.

Having brought on Karanveer Singh, the leg spinner, and having brought the field in to deny Brendon McCullum the easy single, Bailey himself was called on to capitalise on the batsman's over-eagerness to bring Raina back on strike.

Bailey sprinted hard to his left, picked up the ball, and released a hard, flat throw, all this on the turn.

The direct hit caught Raina well short. Having scored 100 in the first six overs, Super Kings could only manage 102 off the last 14.

Excerpts

George Bailey: What an innings from the Master… What an innings from Viru. We started really well in the match. It was a wonderful opening partnership…

It set up the platform really well. It was backed up well by Miller and Saha in the end. However, Viru’s innings almost got overshadowed by Raina’s.

What an amazing inning Raina played as well… it almost put our innings into shade. I think we are fortunate to witness two brilliant innings today.

When we got into the huddle during the strategic time-out, there was a lot of positive talk going around.

The boys were very positive and we were trying to find a quick wicket or two… to put the pressure back on them. I think Awana came back really well after the break and our spinners then took control of the match.

Our fielding has been excellent throughout the tournament… that is something we are proud of. Our catching was good as well.

We are looking forward to the final. We played well today and hopefully there is still another good performance left in us. Hoping for a good final against the KKR… Looking forward to some great fun.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni: The target was something that was achievable, courtesy the way (Suresh) Raina batted. But in the middle overs, there was some very irresponsible cricket from some of the most experienced international cricketers. In a pressure match like this… when the stakes are high, you can’t commit such mistakes.

There are a lot of areas to improve upon. Especially, our bowlers need to improve their bowling on flat tracks.

Once Sehwag gets going, there is hardly any bowler who can stop him and in our bowling line-up there is no bowler who can push him on the back foot. I had belief in my bowling that they will let the KXIP score more than 200 runs (smiles)!

They scored 25 runs more than what we would have easily taken, but with the way Suresh batted we should have chased it. We lost one of our retained players – Dwayne Bravo – at the start of the tournament and still we reached this far… it is a great achievement.

In a game like this, Bravo would have been handy. Unfortunately, Bravo got injured but I still I think we did really well in this tournament.

Overall, I think they batted really and we have to give them credit. I am happy for Preity, she has been through a lot of ups and downs with this side.