The Chennai Super Kings have got their IPL campaign off to an iffy start, having their first game against the Mumbai Indians, but lost the next one to the Rajasthan Royals, a few days back.
The defeat to the Royals generated a lot of criticism for the MS Dhoni-led franchise, because of how they went about chasing the tall target set by the opposition.
Dhoni was criticized, for walking in to bat at number 7 and until the final over the innings, not looking like wanting to win the game.
He admitted that lack of game time was the reason behind him not coming higher up the order and that, he and the management wanted to allow the others to express themselves more, with the bat in hand.
While the second point does come across as a valid one, it is Dhoni’s first point that needs some analysing.
The CSK was the last to begin training in the UAE, owing to reasons surrounding Covid-19 and so they came into the tournament with lesser time to acclimatise to conditions, as compared to the others.
They were later dealt a severe blow when Suresh Raina opted out of this year’s competition because of personal reasons. That meant that the pressure on Dhoni and his men to perform was even more.
Using his experience prudently
Bearing these factors in mind, it is imperative Dhoni reconsiders the option of batting down the order and instead, promotes himself up the order, preferably to number five. This will be crucial in order to help CSK win the IPL.
The first advantage is it lends more experience to that middle-order. With Faf du Plessis and Ambati Rayudu fitting in well after the openers, Dhoni’s presence at five could help CSK maintain a tempo to their innings.
While Sam Curran has shown he can bat higher up the order, Dhoni’s experience could prove invaluable if he decides to come up the order.
Needing time to settle in
The other factor is for Dhoni to get some form into his batting, he will have to give him a few overs to get set. He is no longer the player who can come in and use the long handle effectively.
He needs a few balls to get adjusted and if CSK wishes to see him contribute consistently in the tournament with the bat, they will need him to pick form early and hope for him to maintain it, throughout the IPL tournament.
The days when form or the lack of it did not matter and Dhoni could walk in and bat as if he owned the place are long gone and he must be the first to realise that fact.
The starting point to promoting himself up the order could be against the Delhi Capitals on Friday, a team with a good bowling attack and one that could provide the test Dhoni is looking for.
Hopefully, for him and the franchise, Dhoni can regain his form and entertain everyone present at the venue