IPL: Swag is back, Dhoni does Dhoni things
Never write legends off.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the finisher, swatted away his critics in his inimitable style on Sunday as he turned the clock back to give the world a glimpse of his famed prowess, one that made him the legend he is.
Drawing flak for his inability to accelerate at the death nowadays, Dhoni smashed a match-winning unbeaten 18 off just 6 balls to take the Chennai Super Kings to the final of IPL 2021 with a four-wicket win over Delhi Capitals in Qualifier I at the Dubai International Stadium.
Had it not been for Dhoni’s splendid strokes in the final over where the Super Kings required 13 for victory, there was every possibility of the excellent half-centuries of Ruturaj Gaikwad (70) and Robin Uthappa (63) going in vain after the Capitals posted a competitive total of 172/5.
Given the fact that Dhoni had not scored many runs going into the game, the situation was all the more difficult for him when he came out to bat ahead of Ravindra Jadeja. The Super Kings then needed 24 off 11 balls.
There was enormous pressure on the Super Kings skipper, but he took it in his stride, clobbering the misfiring Avesh Khan for a maximum in just the second ball he faced. That itself was a warning sign for the Capitals.
But then a well-set Moeen Ali perished off the first ball of the final over which was being bowled by his England teammate Tom Curran, who had a pretty good game before bungling in the deciding over.
It’s quality that counts whichever be the format and maybe Delhi skipper Rishabh Pant should have handed the ball over to Kagiso Rabada, who too was economical, for the last over.
Curran pitched it in Dhoni’s arc and the latter had no problems in unleashing his trademark strokes that took the Super Kings home with two balls remaining.
Earlier, opener Prithvi Shaw’s magnificent 60, followed by an 83-run stand between Pant (51 not out) and Shimron Hetmyer (37) helped the Capitals’ go past 170.
Faf du Plessis getting cleaned up by Anrich Nortje in the very first over of their run chase was a huge blow for the Super Kings. But the partnership between Gaikwad, who seems to be getting better with every game, and the veteran Uthappa, who tackled Ravichandran Ashwin to perfection coming in at No.3, bailed them out.
As for the CSK bowlers, Josh Hazlewood (2/29) stood out, dismissing Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer cheaply, while Jadeja and Moeen too did well in the middle overs.