Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has said that he had “nothing much in the mind” when he walked in to bat with 24 runs still required off 11 deliveries in the playoffs match against the Rishabh Pant-led Delhi Capitals.
While the task was enormous, the skipper added that the only thing relevant at that stage was to “just watch the ball and hit the ball”.
Dhoni led three-time champions CSK to their ninth IPL final, smashing an unbeaten 18 off six deliveries in a chase of 173 in the Qualifier 1 in Dubai. The charismatic wicketkeeper-batter hit Tom Curran for three consecutive boundaries in the final over to take CSK over the line. It was the seventh occasion Dhoni scored 10 or more runs in the 20th over of successful run chases in the IPL, the most by any batsman.
“It (last over) was a crucial one. Delhi have a very good attack, and they were exploiting the conditions well. They were using the bigger boundaries. So I felt it would be tough. That’s why we wanted set batters to continue till the end,” said Dhoni in the post-match press conference last on Sunday.
On what was going through his mind when he came at the crucial stage, the captain said, “Nothing, just watch the ball and hit the ball. I haven’t done a lot in the tournament, so you want to get that part out of the system. If you are batting well in the nets, just look for the ball, what are the variations, where the bowler could bowl. Other than that there was nothing much in the mind. If there are too many things floating around, it becomes difficult to watch the ball,” he said.
On the reason for sending Shardul Thakur at No. 4, Dhoni explained, “We are one side that hasn’t done that a lot (batting order changes). Even with Deepak (Chahar) we bat till 9. With the way Shardul has been batting recently or even Deepak, both can contribute. When a batsman goes in, he will think twice before hitting the first ball, but if a Shardul or a Deepak goes in, they can look to hit the first ball. And even if they get one or two boundaries, it could be a big impact because the run difference is only 15-20 runs.”