After Ruturaj Gaikwad fell for 70 off 50 balls, leaving Chennai Super Kings needing 24 off the last 11 balls, all eyes were waiting for Ravindra Jadeja to walk in. After all, the all-rounder has a strike rate of 145.51 and averages in excess of 75 with the bat in IPL 2021. But MS Dhoni walked out, setting many a tongue wagging.
What followed, though, was a vintage Dhoni knock, featuring a six and three fours. The CSK captain finished unbeaten on 18 off just six balls, helping the side make the final of the IPL for the ninth time in the twelve seasons they’ve featured in.
As soon as Dhoni hit the winning four, Virender Sehwag, former India opener, took to Twitter to lavish praise on the stumper.
"Om Finishaya Namaha ! Great win from Chennai. Ruturaj Top class, Uthappa classy and Dhoni showing how important temparament is. Great win for @ChennaiIPL and what a fightback to reach the finals after the show last season," he wrote.
Ricky Ponting, head coach of Delhi Capitals, who were on the receiving end of the Dhoni blitz, reckoned Dhoni could end up being one of the greatest finishers.
“He has been one of the greats, don't think there is any doubt there," the former Australia captain said in the post-match press conference.
"We were sitting in the dugout thinking if it will be Jadeja or Dhoni coming next. I put my hand up straight away and said I am pretty sure Dhoni will come out now and try and ice the game.”
"We probably didn't execute as well as we needed to, and you know that if you miss, he is going to make you pay. He has done it for a long time now and I think our bowlers just missed their areas a little bit. I think when he retires, he will be remembered as one of the greatest finishers the game has ever seen.”
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Stephen Fleming, head coach of the Super Kings, revealed the events leading up to Dhoni walking out at seven.
“There was a lot of chat. I think we probably spoke more in these 20 overs than we have for a long time,” said Fleming after the match.
“A lot of technical discussions, maneuvering how to work out how it was going to unfold and who was going to make maximum impact. I'll tell you what, when the captain gets that look in his eyes and said 'I'll go', it's been well documented that he has done that, and today was one of those. So, I ain't holding him back and we saw the result of that.”
“It was emotional in the changing rooms; that's very important. But also, the captain had an opportunity to do that for us.”
The Capitals had set Super Kings a target of 173, thanks to a quickfire 60 off just 34 balls from Prithvi Shaw. The 21-year-old also conceded that it was Dhoni who made the difference in the result eventually.
“MS Dhoni is something different, everyone knows that. We have seen him finish games so many times and it's nothing new for him or for us to see him do that,” said Shaw.
“He's definitely a dangerous player whenever he bats. I feel very lucky to be in this atmosphere and get a chance to watch him as a batsman and a leader. He took the game away from us.”
Wow what a match. My heart goes out to the young #DC team. Hard luck boys & all the best for the next game. Tonight belonged to #CSK. #Dhoni the finisher leading from the front, inspiring his players to give their best & keeping his cool at all times 👍 #DCvsCSK @IPL #Finisher— Preity G Zinta (@realpreityzinta) October 10, 2021
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