Kevin Pietersen and Sunil Gavaskar could not fathom why MS Dhoni chose to bat at No. 7 when he was required to bat up the order as Chennai Super Kings chased a 217-run target against Rajasthan Royals in Sharjah on Tuesday. (SCORECARD)
CSK suffered their first defeat of IPL 2020 but more than Sanju Samson's brilliant knock (32-ball 74, studded with nine sixes) that turned the match in Royals' favouur, it was Dhoni's decision to bat lower down the order that grabbed more attention.
Both Pietersen and Gavaskar questioned Dhoni's wisdom to bat as a lower middle-order batsman after the former Indian cricket captain smashed an unbeaten 17-ball 29 that included three mighty sixes against RR's pacer Tom Curran. CSK lost by 16 runs after winning the IPL 2020 tournament opener against Mumbai Indians on September 19.
Both Gavaskar and Pietersen agreed that Dhoni had a perfect platform to launch himself after Chennai Super Kings werer reduced to 77 for three in the ninth. But Dhoni defended himself.
The extended two-week quarantine for Chennai Super Kings hampered his preparations and he did not get enough time for batting practice, said captain MS Dhoni in a post-match chat in Sharjah.
Dhoni decided to send in the likes of Sam Curran and Kedar Jadhav ahead of him in IPL 2020's first 200-plus chase.
The CSK captain said, "I haven't batted for a long time. 14-day quarantine doesn't help."
Dhoni's reference was to CSK's extra one-week quarantine after 13 people in their contingent tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in missing out on important training sessions.
Although he didn't name Murali Vijay but the veteran opener's run-a-ball 21 was one of the reasons for CSK falling short besides an off-day from his spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla.
"With 217 on the board, we needed a very good start which was not the case. Steve (Smith) and (Sanju) Samson batted very well. We need to give credit to their bowlers. Once you've seen the first innings, you knew the lengths to bowl," Dhoni said.
"Their spinners did well to bowl away from the batsman. Our spinners made the error to bowl too full. If we would've maybe restricted them to 200, it would've been a good game."
Steve Smith, happy man
RR captain Steve Smith praised Jofra Archer's big hits in the last over that eventually changed the game.
"I think the last surge from Jofra was an incredible bit of hitting. Sanju Samson, looked like everything he hit went for six. MS smacked a few in the end, and Faf got going too, but nice to get a win," Smith said.
Smith heaped praised on Samson for his nine sixes.
"Sanju was incredible, and all I had to do was give him the strike. This should give him a lot of confidence. Jos (Buttler) is a quality player and we'll see what happens when he comes back. Hard to take the opening slot away from someone like him."
(With inputs from PTI)
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