Team Chennai may carry on in denial mode, but their skipper MS Dhoni is an injured man. He is struggling to run a few yards across the field with a pulled hamstring, but such is the situation that he has to keep on playing without taking a break.
Yet, when it came to the crunch on Thursday night, Dhoni again showed why Chennai can’t think of taking the field without him. His 12-ball 28 almost went unnoticed, but that was the innings that made all the difference.
He also brought out the helicopter shot in the 19th over against an extremely accurate Ashish Nehra, which set the platform for a big last over. “That was a ridiculous shot MS brought out. I don’t know how he does that?” Allan Donald couldn’t conceal his amazement.
The captain in Dhoni, too, was in his elements on Thursday. It all started with promoting S Badrinath to open the batting. While all the speculation was whether it would be Abhinav Mukund or S Aniruda in place of an out-of-form M Vijay, Dhoni played the Badri card which worked well.
Donald acknowledged that the “openers did play a major role” and one can be assured that Dhoni is going to continue with it in the next few games. While defending a modest 164, the skipper again maneuvered his bowlers brilliantly, and a couple of wickets that they got initially were the key. “In the last few games, we were not getting the wickets in the first few overs. The bowlers had to attack in the PowerPlay and I was happy that we got those crucial wickets,” Dhoni said.
There were instances when the skipper had to run from the wicketkeeper’s position to square leg to get the ball back. He then hobbled across the turf to get back into position, but at the spur of the moment, he forgot all about his hamstring. “It was important to be aggressive and show a bit more energy on the field,” Dhoni explained the inspired fielding of his team.
With the Chennai humidity taking its toll, it becomes all the more difficult for somebody who is not 100 per cent fit, but not Dhoni. He has seen enough of this and always prefers to play at Chepauk, even if it’s on one foot. “If you are playing here for the last five years, you don’t really feel it… The new stadium (with the sea breeze coming in) really helps, we are not worried about the heat. We have more things to worry about,” Dhoni said.
For now, the big worry is a resurgent Team Rajasthan under Rahul Dravid. If Chennai manage to go past Rajasthan on Saturday, Dhoni may just be tempted to take the much-needed break before it goes to the business end of the tournament.