Dhoni will take time to be at his best as finisher - CSK coach Fleming

Chennai Super Kings’ batting wasn’t the worry in the 16-run defeat to Rajasthan Royals, says Stephen Fleming.

M. S. Dhoni attempts a slog sweep during Chennai Super Kings' run chase on Tuesday. - BCCI/IPL

It will take some time to see M. S. Dhoni at his best as a finisher, Chennai Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming said after his side’s 16-run defeat against Rajasthan Royals in an Indian Premier League contest on Tuesday.

Chasing 217 to win in 20 overs, the Super Kings finished on 200 for 6, with Dhoni unbeaten on 29 (17b, 2x6). Dhoni came out to bat at No. 7 and took time to settle down before unleashing his powerful shots. By the time he found his range, however, he did not have many deliveries at his disposal to knock off the required runs.

Dhoni argued that the extended two-week quarantine of his side hampered his preparations as he did not get enough time for practice. “We have this question every year. He was in in the 14th over, which is pretty much optimal time, and sort of batted accordingly. He is coming back from not playing a huge amount of cricket,” Fleming said.

‘Not too far away’

“So, the expectations to see him at his best is going to take some time. But you see him towards the end, he was very good. Faf du Plessis carried the form, so we weren’t too far away. It wasn’t the batting that was the worry to be honest.”

Dhoni sent the likes of Sam Curran and Kedar Jadhav ahead of him.

Asked about the rationale behind the move, Fleming said, “M. S. is a specialist towards the end of the innings, always has been. Curran was there trying to hit and keep us in the game at that point when we were falling behind. He’s got good hitting power like we saw. Ruturaj...it was his first game and we wanted to get him into the game into the order. We wanted to be aggressive, we’ve got a long batting order and we’re just trying to use our resources smartly.”

ALSO READ | Dhoni, best in the business, retirement or otherwise

Fleming said his spinners were slow in adjusting the length of their deliveries - they bowled too full. Sanju Samson (74) was on fire against their spinners.

‘Slow in adjusting’

“[Royals’] hitting was very good in the eight overs they faced. It was a good surface [to bat on] and we were slow in adjusting. We did not adjust quickly. There was intent to adjust but execution was poor. So it was dangerous time and we had to just hang in there and try. We came close to pulling back to a manageable score but that last over took us out of reach.”

 

Royals’ tail-ender Jofra Archer hit Lungi Ngidi for four sixes in the final over which yielded 30 runs to take the total to 216 for 7.

Royals’ captain Steve Smith said Samson’s brilliant performance had given him more options at top of the order.

“Samson takes the game head on and he hit some seriously good sixes. He has a positive intent and my role was to give him more strike. Fortunately it worked well,” Smith said. “It gives more options. Samson played incredibly well. It seems everything he was hitting was going for a six. It was a serious innings. Jos [Buttler] coming for next game it is a big plus for us. Jofra [Archer] at the back end was absolutely amazing.”

‘Magnificent’ Jofra

Smith, however, said Buttler was likely to open the batting in the next game.

 

“We will wait and see. It gives options, does not it. We will do what we think is the best. Jos obviously has an incredible record on top. He probably slots himself back and it gives options for sure.”

Talking about Jofra’s batting heroics, Smith said, “Jofra at the end was magnificent, getting us up to that total. He loves batting, he is a terrific player for us and did well with the ball as well.”

  Dugout videos