Chennai: The atmosphere was electrifying at MA Chidambaram Stadium here last night as CSK played their last home match against Delhi Capitals. And Mahendra Singh Dhoni was in the thick of things yet again.
Chasing 180 for victory, Delhi Capitals were going strong. Two balls changed the course of match. In the 12th over of the match that was bowled by Jadeja, Chris Morris was stumped by Dhoni and call it a super glove work.
The wicket did belong to Dhoni. He moved his gloves towards the stumps, Morris lifted his foot just for a fraction of a second to give the Chennai captain a chance. The bails were off and Morris had been sent back for a first-ball duck. On the final delivery of the over, Shreyas Iyer dragged his feet to the edge of the crease but had managed to keep his foot inside.
But, while trying to regain his balance, Iyer lifted his foot and Dhoni whipped the bails off to dismiss the Delhi captain. Delhi had slipped to 85 for 8 and the target of 180 was already beyond them. Eventually CSK won by 80 runs.
Earlier in the day, when CSK was struggling 87 for 2 in 14 overs, walked in Dhoni. After blocking few deliveries, began his typical show. He smashed 17 off 8 from Morris and then scored 21 in the last over bowled by Trent Boult. A 130 was looking bleak for CSK, but Dhoni made sure the hosts reach 179. His unbeaten 44 in 22 balls set a strong platform for CSK.
“Get your basics right”
Asked about his lightning fast skill behind the stumps, the veteran wicket-keeper batsman said it was something which he has developed from tennis ball cricket.
Talking about his super quick stumpings, Dhoni said, “I think it’s something that’s come from tennis ball cricket. But you still have to do the basics and graduate to that level. If you want to keep like that you can make mistakes; so I still think basics are most important.”
Remember he was back in yesterday’s match after missing a couple of games due to fever and a stiff back.
“Watch the ball, hit the ball”
Asked about his power-packed knock, Dhoni said he had spent enough time on the wicket to understand the bowling variations and unleash his game towards the end to lead Chennai Super Kings to a match-winning total. “Watch the ball, hit the ball. You’ve spent time, you know the variations. By the 20th over you’re almost ready and you swing at everything,” Dhoni said when asked about his last-over exploits.
“Thala is special”
Among many nicknames that he has, Dhoni cherishes being called as ‘Thala’ by CSK fans. He says, “I have always said it’s very special to get that kind of a nickname. It’s a big nickname that they have given me. It feels really special. I didn’t realise that it was part of the first CSK song. The way I got accepted and the whole of Tamilnadu – whenever they see me they don’t call my name, they call me ‘Thala’. It’s feels very special and they have always supported not only me but the whole team.”
“Thanks to franchise”
The crowd support and franchise’s support are key of course. Huge credit has to also go to the support staff who play a huge role in keeping the team atmosphere good for the team and other individuals. His excellent rapport with Srinivasan, the Vice-Chairman and the Managing Director of India Cements, which owns the CSK is widely known.
On his special bonding with Srinivasan, Dhoni had recently said, “I got to learn a lot out of him. The interactions have been very friendly because I was with CSK for the longest time. Whenever CSK was going through a rough phase, a lot of interactions were about how we don’t mind the opposition winning the game. We don’t want to lose the game. He is someone who has played it very hard but very fair. With Srini sir, it was a very special bonding.”
“You can love him, you can hate him, but you can’t ignore him. Majority of us definitely fall into the first category. I was fortunate to have been able to spend a lot of time with him, got to understand life, how you’re supposed to deal with failures, how you’re not supposed to give up, how to keep helping others to make sure they perform to their potential.”