Dhoni’s wrist IPL symbolizes SSK’s scrapping method in 2018

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A last-ball six off MS Dhoni bat usually means one thing – a victory for his team. Despite argumentations that his finishing powers have been on the wane, Dhoni’s approach has not wavered a bit. Be it calculated assaults, pacing the innings or running hard between wickets, Dhoni is a control freak when it comes to seeing a side over the finish line. Something similar was on display in the match against Kings XI Punjab but the end result wasn’t one that materialised in Chennai Super Kings’ victory.

Dhoni predisposition towards taking the game as close as possible before leading his team through to ultimate glory is something that has earned him the reputation as being one of the best finishers of the game. While he has struggled a bit in the recent past when it comes to completion of the job, Dhoni’s value to the team has seldom been in question, notwithstanding debates that he’s now 36 and is no longer the batsman that he was during his prime.

There have been a few instances when he has not been able to take his team over the finish line, including the 28-ball 25 against Kolkata Knight Riders in last week’s IPL match that supports the argument. But the benchmark that he has set when it comes to the accomplishment of desired results in the limited-overs format speaks volumes of his calm demeanour that’s a gift many cricketers would travel the universe to possess. That gift nearly saw CSK through in Mohali, only for a hampered back to sabotage a job that was almost perfectly done.

A Chris Gayle assault helped KXIP set CSK a daunting target of 198, which became even more tougher after the hosts managed to pick up early wickets and reduce Super Kings to 56 for 3 in the seventh over. Ambati Rayudu played his part in keeping the team afloat, with Dhoni providing solid support from the other end. But the pressure was always on CSK who were playing catch up, and needing 85 off six overs soon after Rayudu’s departure meant the game was firmly in favour of KXIP.

But Dhoni remained entrenched at the other end, although a sore back was acting as a hurdle while the required rate was constantly on the rise. Despite a couple of massages from the physio to alleviate his problems with the back, Dhoni was still struggling but that didn’t deter him from trying to help CSK scrape ahead. 76 from 30 came down to 55 off the last three overs, and the equation then became 36 off 12 deliveries. A 19-run over off Mohit Sharma and the same number off Andrew Tye in the penultimate over, Dhoni was setting CSK up for another jail break.

After two last-ball victories, CSK were looking good for their third such heist – one that didn’t quite happen largely due to Dhoni’s troublesome back and Mohit’s success in exploiting that chink. By keeping it as far wide and full as possible, Mohit had Dhoni reaching out of his comforts although the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman did manage to find the ropes and bring it down to 11 off three. However, two more wide yorkers followed and took the game out of CSK’s grasp, thus handing them their first defeat of 2018.

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