MS Dhoni proves 'short and sweet' is the way forward in IPL 2024 | Crickit
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MS Dhoni proves 'short and sweet' is the way forward in IPL 2024

By, New Delhi
Apr 16, 2024 05:04 PM IST

MS Dhoni, for the second successive time, promoted himself ahead of Ravindra Jadeja - yes, he can still do that!

MS Dhoni appears to have realised that batting way down the order is not going to help Chennai Super Kings much. The match against Mumbai Indians this past Sunday is a classic example of how he can make a massive difference with the bat at the right number.

MS Dhoni plays a shot during the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket match between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians, at Wankhede Stadium (PTI)
MS Dhoni plays a shot during the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket match between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians, at Wankhede Stadium (PTI)

Dhoni, for the second successive time, promoted himself ahead of Ravindra Jadeja -- yes, he can still do that! In the previous matches, the allrounder had been scoring at a modest strike rate, never threatening the opposition. In a couple of matches, even Sameer Rizvi batted ahead of Dhoni.

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Having probably those matches in mind and how Jadeja’s batting strike rate was problematic for CSK, against MI Dhoni walked out to bat ahead of the India allrounder at No.6. He had done the same against Kolkata Knight Riders last week but by the time he had walked out to bat, the match was almost CSK’s and he had nothing much to do.

Anyway, on Sunday, although he played just four balls, he scored at an astonishing strike rate of 500, including three consecutive sixes off Hardik Pandya in the last over, and his batting impacted the outcome of the match greatly.

CSK eventually won the match by 20 runs. If not for those 20 runs of his, who knows what would have happened? It wouldn’t be wrong to say that his innings proved to be more important in the context of the game than that of Rohit Sharma who scored 105 not out off 63 balls with a strike rate of around 167.

Yes, Matheesha Pathirana bowled exceptionally well to help CSK win but a good total of 206 on the board, applying the scoreboard pressure on the opposition batsmen all the time, also helped him in equal measure.

The time has also come to realise that the T20 format is not about big individual scores. It has never been actually. It’s just that the realisation has hit home only in recent years. If those runs come at a strike rate of, say, around 200, they make sense. But if a batsman has played 60 balls – half the available deliveries in an innings – and they just score 100 runs, more often than not, they will end up on the losing side.

Virat Kohli’s century against Rajasthan Royals the other day reinforces the point. Like Rohit, Kohli carried the bat with 113 of 72 balls at a strike rate of 156.94. RR comfortably won the match with five balls to go, with Jos Buttler scoring 100* at a strike rate of 172.41. The Englishman didn't really have to up the ante in light of a modest 183 RCB had put on the board. Thanks to Kohli, RCB were at least 20 runs short.

A few days before against KKR, Kohli had again carried the bat with 83 off 59 balls at a strike rate of 140.68, and KKR chased down 183 with a staggering 19 balls to spare, with Sunil Narine's 22-ball 47 proving to be match-winning. There are many more examples to prove that a much shorter innings with a good strike rate (around 200) has much more impact than a big innings with an average strike rate.

With flat pitches, short boundaries, exceptional bats, all making batters more daring, players who bat with Kohli and Rohit’s mindset cannot bank on their bowlers to make up for their shortcomings.

Getting back to Dhoni... in a 20-run defeat to Delhi Capitals last month, he scored 37* off 16 balls coming in at No.8. Had he chosen to bat a couple of numbers up, CSK, with his exceptional power-hitting on offer, would have certainly backed themselves to cross the line.

Not just ahead of Jadeja and Rizvi… for now Dhoni should consider batting ahead of Kiwi star Daryl Mitchell who is struggling a bit at present. The former Indian captain can hit the ball right from the get-go, unlike Jadeja and Mitchell who need to play quite a few balls before they can launch the ball into the stands consistently. In the defeat against Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 5, Jadeja (31* off 23 balls) and Mitchell (13 off 11 balls), batting ahead of Dhoni at No.5 & 6 respectively, didn’t help the Chennai cause at all. The skills Dhoni has, not many have, and CSK should make the most of it.

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