Mahendra Singh Dhoni did not lead from the front by dropping himself down the batting order during a mammoth chase, opined former India batsman Gautam Gambhir, tearing into the CSK captain’s decision to bat at number seven against Rajasthan Royals.
The former India opener reckons that if any other captain had done this, he would have drawn a lot of flak but since it is Dhoni, people are not even talking about it.
With Chennai Super Kings chasing a massive 217-run target in Sharjah, Dhoni came to bat when they needed 103 runs from 38 balls.
Dhoni sent the likes of Sam Curran, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Kedar Jadhav ahead of him. CSK lost the match by 16 runs.
“I was a bit surprised to be honest. MS Dhoni batting at No. 7? And sending (Ruturaj) Gaikwad, Sam Curran before him. Makes no sense to me. In fact you should be leading from the front,” Gambhir told ESPNcricinfos T20 Time Out.
“This is not what you call leading from the front. Batting at No. 7 when you’re chasing 217. The game was over. Faf was probably the lone warrior,” he said.
“See, if someone else would have done this, some other (batsman) captain had batted at No. 7, he would have got a lot of flak. It is MS Dhoni – probably that’s why people dont talk about it.”
Dhoni has argued that he did not get enough time to prepare due to an extended quarantine period, so he did not come to out bat early.
“I haven’t batted for a long time. 14-day quarantine doesn’t help,” he said after the match. Dhoni was referring 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.
The 38-year-old Gambhir, who played 58 Tests and 147 ODIs between 2003 and 2016, also questioned CSK’s intent to win the game.
“There is nothing wrong if you end up getting out early, at least start leading from the front, trying to inspire the team as well. What you did in the last over (hitting 3 sixes in last over), probably if you’d done that coming in at No. 4 or 5, alongside Faf, you could have made a game out of it,” said Gambhir.
“Probably there was no such intent to make a game out of it. I thought after the (first) six overs, they had literally given up on the game. And probably MS was trying to get back into that match rhythm of batting till the end and get some runs under his belt so he can actually play these kind of innings in the coming games.
“You’ve got to be in the present, try and win each game possible. I thought there was no intent to win the game and they were never there in the chase.”
On Dhoni hitting three sixes in the final over, Gambhir said, “Yes, you can talk about MS Dhoni’s last over but it was of no use to be honest. It was just all personal runs.”
Gambhir, also a BJP Member of Parliament, said it was “absolute miscalculation” on the part of CSK to delay Dhoni’s arrival at the crease.
“When you don’t have Suresh Raina, you’re making people believe that Sam Curran is better than you. You’re making people believe that Ruturaj Gaikwad, Curran, Kedar Jadhav, Faf du Plessis, M Vijay, all these guys, are better than you.
“Probably not the right captaincy as well. This is not how you ask someone like MS to lead the side,” he said.