Why it has been a difficult journey for MS Dhoni with the bat this IPL?

Ankit Kumar
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Is it the timing or the reflex, which is slowing down MS Dhoni


 

Chennai Super Kings and MS Dhoni is going through a rough patch this year. It is going to be the first instance since the beginning of IPL that Chennai Super Kings won’t be a part of playoffs. They are practically out of the race. They can finish with only 14 points even though they win all games from here on. It would then depend upon the standings of other teams for CSK to qualify.

People on social media have been very disappointed with the performance of the team, especially MS Dhoni. The former Indian captain who won all the ICC trophies for India is struggling to score runs in the ongoing IPL. He has scored just 164 runs in 10 matches at a strike rate of 125.19. MS Dhoni is considered as one of the greatest finishers in the history of white-ball cricket, but he is struggling to finish games this year.

 

Is Dhoni not capable of hitting now?

Dhoni’s career strike-rate in IPL is 137.36, almost 12 more than the strike rate in ongoing IPL. In overall 326 T20s, he has hit a whopping 301 sixes which includes 200 IPL matches, in which he has hit 215 sixes. This means he has hit 1.07 sixes in every IPL match. The 2018 season was the brightest for MS Dhoni, six-hitting wise – 30 maximums in 16 games. In 2019 IPL, he had hit 23 sixes in 15 IPL games. Compared to that, he has hit only 6 sixes in 10 games so far. The six-hitting average has dropped 0.6 per game.

dhoni
MS Dhoni captain of Chennai Super Kings plays a shot during the qualifier 1 match of the Vivo Indian Premier League Season 12, 2019 between the Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings held at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, Tamil Nadu on the 7th May 2019
Photo by: Vipin Pawar /SPORTZPICS for BCCI

Read more: Is it the end of MS Dhoni, Should he retire mid-IPL after a series of failures?

Didn’t Dhoni remodel his batting?

It is true that MS Dhoni remodelled his batting since he started coming in the middle order. He has played the role of a grafter to build the innings and then up the ante at the back end of the innings. Before he left International Cricket, he did score some handy runs for India. In the last world cup, he scored a 56 not-out against West Indies and took India from 140/4, when India was under pressure, to a defending total of 268/7, staying there till the end. Hardik Pandya was hitting big sixes, and Dhoni played the second fiddle, still his strike rate was 91, very acceptable in ODIs. Earlier in 2019, he had scored 55 and 87 not-out against Australia in two ODIs in Adelaide and Melbourne respectively and guided India home.

In the current IPL, Dhoni has remained unbeaten thrice; a 17-ball 29 against Rajasthan Royals and 36-ball 47 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in a losing chase and a 0 not out of 2 balls in the tournament opener against Mumbai Indians, where they won the match.

 

Why it has been difficult for Dhoni this year?

Dhoni came into this season completely undercooked. The last time when he played competitive cricket was in the World Cup semifinal against New Zealand at Old Trafford on July 10, 2019. A Covid-induced lockdown has elongated layoff for every cricketer but in Dhoni’s case, the break was even longer. Also, Mahi is in the twilight of his career at the age of 39.

The biggest challenge for MS Dhoni has been finding the right timing. He has struggled to get his timing right in all these 10 matches. Experts are saying that his reflexes have become slower and even his body positions were not right when he was playing certain shots. In the second match of CSK and RR, Dhoni was well set after playing 25 balls. Kartik Tyagi bowled an ideal full-toss delivery, the CSK captain attempted slog but mistimed it and the ball limply went to long-on. A few years back, Dhoni would have hit that ball 20 rows back over long-on.

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