MS Dhoni played a blinder against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) on Sunday. It had everything which fans were expecting from the 36-year-old. However, the innings ended up on the losing side. Dhoni, batting with a back pain, scored 79* off 44 balls in a 198-run chase.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) needed 17 runs off the last over, but a couple of brilliant deliveries by KXIP pacer Mohit Sharma ensured an injured Dhoni couldn't hit it for boundaries.
Speaking in the post-match presentation, Dhoni said the injury isn't that bad and he will recover before the next match against Rajasthan Royals on Friday.
“It’s bad, but I don’t know how bad it is,” smiled Dhoni. “God has given me enough power (that) I don’t need to use my back a lot, the hands can do the job!
“We’ll assess how bad it is. It shouldn’t be too bad because I know what really happened, and once you know the kind of injury it is, it becomes easier to get out of it. And also, we have three-four days now before the next game, so there is enough time. But I’m quite used to playing with a few injuries, whether it’s back, fingers, elbow or something else. You have to be tough and play the game.”
The CSK skipper acknowledged that Chris Gayle's 63 off 33 and spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman's economical bowling in the middle overs gave KXIP an upper hand in the game.
“I think they bowled pretty well. Mujeeb, you can say, to a large extent was the major difference,” felt Dhoni. “It’s not really easy to hit him at will. Also in the second half, we thought there will be dew, but I don’t think there was much dew. It was just sticking slightly for the spinners, but overall I think Chris’s innings and Mujeeb bowled really well, so they played better than us. We need to improve in a few areas. You can lose a few games in the league stages, but it was a close one which is important because it means you are competing.”
In the big chase, Ravindra Jadeja was sent above Dwayne Bravo, wo had smashed 68 off 30 in a one-wicket win against Mumbai Indians. Dhoni says the southpaw was batted above Bravo because they want to turn him into a finisher.
“It’s a difficult one. (Stephen) Fleming (the coach) is in the dugout, so he needs to take that decision,” said Dhoni. “We have confidence in Jadeja also. One of the reasons being he’s left-handed and it’s not easy to bowl consistently at a left-hander. And also this is the time we can give him that opportunity to express himself. If he doesn’t do it, of course Bravo is an experienced one who can always go back and do the job for us. But if Jadeja can do the job, it will be really good. We have Raina at the top of the innings as one left-hander, and if Jadeja can do the job of a floater, it really makes it difficult for the opposition to plan.
“Unless we give him an opportunity, and so far we have never really given him the opportunity that he really deserves. I would definitely back him that in the coming games he’ll come good. Yes at times he’ll get off to a slow start, but you have to identify the talent and back the individual.”
Dhoni knows CSK is filled with veterans and there is very less room for improvement in fielding. But he thinks they can work on their death bowling as it makes a difference in the result.
“Fielding we can’t improve, so I won’t really say that,” said Dhoni. “We’ll be a safe fielding side, we won’t be an extraordinary fielding side. We just have to make sure that when we are under the pump from the batsmen, what are the boundaries that we can omit, what are the easy deliveries that we are not supposed to give. Because good batsmen will hit you, and throughout IPL it is something that they (the bowlers) will have to go through. It’s just that if you keep cutting one or two boundaries here and there, at the end of the game you’ll realise that those were the seven or eight runs that really made the difference.
“It’s the start of the tournament, we have won two games and all have been close, so it means the individuals in the team will get to learn a lot from them. Overall I’m quite happy with the performance.”