MS Dhoni is back to what he does best – finishing games. He did just that in Qualifier 1 against Delhi Capitals in IPL 2021 when he struck the winning runs. He gambled a few times in the match when Chennai Super Kings were chasing 173 for a win. In fact, Dhoni is known for his gambles that every captain should learn from.
Cricwizz takes a look at Dhoni's gambles in IPL.
When he promoted Ambati Rayudu as an opener in 2018 IPL
In the 2018 IPL, Ambati Rayudu joined CSK from Mumbai Indians. MS Dhoni used Rayudu as a floater, meaning the latter could bat anywhere in the batting order. However, Dhoni gambled by first asking Rayudu to open the innings. Rayudu responded to the challenge by cracking a century as an opener.
Later, when Shane Watson and Faf Du Plessis joined as opening partners, Rayudu was pushed in the middle-order, and he was successful there as well. His success in 2018 IPL saw him being recalled to the national team. This move by Dhoni teaches that the best way to bring out the best in a player is to keep challenging them in unfamiliar territories.
When he opened the bowling with off-spinner R Ashwin
Long back when spinners were used in the middle-order to deny pace to hitters and stem the flow of runs, Dhoni gambled by opting to open the innings with an off-spinner Ashwin or as a first-change bowler. This move worked wonders in the 2011 IPL final against RCB when Ashwin got rid of Chris Gayle cheaply to help CSK post their second successive title. This gamble teaches the need to keep thinking out of the box in this fast-paced game.
When he positioned Hayden on a straight mid-off to dismiss Pollard
In the 2010 IPL final, only Kieron Pollard of Mumbai Indians was between CSK and victory. Knowing the penchant of Pollard to hit straight down the ground, Dhoni positioned Mathew Hayden right beside the bowler’s mark. Pollard fell for it and hit a catch straight to Hayden. It gives captains lessons on how to think creatively in field placings according to the strengths and weaknesses of players.
After so many years, still a repeat a of that famous dismissal that was set up by MS Dhoni for Pollard. That was in DY Patil inside d circle— Moulin (@Moulinparikh) May 21, 2017
When he promoted Uthappa to No 3 in Qualifier 1 in IPL 2021
Uthappa was considered a done force when CSK played him in the final ahead of Suresh Raina despite the former’s poor scores. And on top of that, Uthappa was given the No 3 spot to anchor the chase in the 2021 IPL qualifier 1. Uthappa rose to the challenge to struck a match-winning fifty and help CSK enter their 9th IPL final. It shows backing players make them stand up to the team's cause when needed.
Cover Credits: BCCIofficial