When MS Dhoni hits, the opponent is never comfortable. The World Cup winner and former India captain has penned some notable wins from unlikely situations for both India and Chennai Super Kings in the past. The 40-year-old almost did it again, this time for CSK in their 2022 Indian Premier League (IPL) opener against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday.
Dhoni came into the batting at 61/5 in 10.5 overs after KKR captain Shreyas Iyer won the toss and settled for the field, and had a difficult task in hand to help CSK reach a struggling total .
Highlights of CSK vs KKR, IPL 2022 | report
Dhoni is no longer his old self who used to beat the big boys for fun. His reflexes, particularly when hitting, have slowed and it showed in the way Dhoni struggled with the racquet in CSK’s winning streak in the 2022 IPL.
Dhoni also struggled with the right timing on Saturday. The lack of competitive practice for the man who retired from international cricket in 2020 was highlighted when KKR spinners Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine pinned him down.
Dhoni was 5 of 13, 15 of 25, but he finished on 50, not from 38 balls, while CSK finished on 131 at the end of 20 overs on an odd two-tier Wankhede pitch.
Dhoni took his time to get going but once he found the center of the blade, the former CSK captain took fans back in time. He smashed 7 boundaries and a six and hit 45 of his last 25 deliveries to give CSK an outside chance.
The fact that CSK won the match by the penultimate over is down to Dhoni’s late blitz.
“There is always tension here when MS Dhoni bats. I knew the momentum would shift to her with the rope. It was difficult to grab the ball,” Iyer said.
‘CHUFFED FOR UMESH’
Dhoni’s 50, his first in the IPL in 3 years, went wide as KKR shot down the total with relative ease. New signing Ajinkya Rahane hit a solid 44 while Sam Billings and Nitish Rana Quickfire hit 20s to help KKR get 2 points down the board.
However, KKR’s victory was set up by Umesh Yadav’s new ball blast. The top-ranked India Pacer, who was handed a new IPL contract with Kolkata, used the mid-air nip to unnerve the CSK batting unit in Mumbai on Saturday night.
Umesh won the big wicket of last year’s Orange Cap winner Ruturaj Gaikwad with 0 in the first over and defeated New Zealand star Devon Conway on the power play. He finished with numbers of 2/20 in 4 overs to win the Player of the Match award.
Captain Iyer praised Umesh, saying: “Umesh worked hard in the nets and did well in the practice games too.