Ex-India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar thinks MS Dhoni the cricketer might take a backseat for Dhoni the captain in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League.
In the opening match of IPL 2020, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings defeated Mumbai Indians by five wickets.
Although Dhoni was present on the field when Faf du Plesis scored the winning runs, the skipper could not open his account after facing two balls. He came out to bat number 7, having sent Ravindra Jadeja and Sam Curran ahead of him in the batting order.
These decisions have won Dhoni’s side the match but former cricketer and commentator Sanjay Manjrekar thinks that such steps could mean Dhoni the captain was keeping Dhoni the batsman at the back to help with the team’s performance.
“I watched Dhoni as captain in that first game where Chennai lost five wickets and Dhoni ended up zero not out after facing just two balls. While more evidence is certainly needed, people should not be surprised if they see Dhoni the batsman take a back seat to allow Dhoni the captain to guide the team’s fortunes,” wrote Manjrekar in his column for The Times of India on Tuesday.
Having chosen to bowl first in the toss, CSK was in a tricky situation at the start of their batting innings. In front of the target of 163 runs, the Chennai team was 6-2.
While Ambati Rayudu and du Plesis stabilised the team, the partnership failed to secure victory on their own, as Rayudu lost his wicket.
With four overs left of the game and 41 runs to score, Dhoni brought out Jadeja and thereafter Curran.
Manjrekar listed the act of choosing Sam Curran and Lungi Ngidi in the playing eleven also as an “early sign” of Dhoni prioritising his captaincy over batting. He also chose CSK as the favourite for their next match against Rajasthan Royals on 22 September at Sharjah.
“With a win against Mumbai, who have been their nemesis, Chennai start as clear favourites against Rajasthan,” he added.
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The two struggling teams have six points from nine games, but the defending champions are placed above on the net run rate.
Umpire Reiffel, who played 35 Tests for Australia before retiring, appeared to start the signal for a wide - both arms outstretched at shoulder height - when Dhoni began protesting.
Srikkanth was referring to Dhoni's remark that the youngsters in the Chennai Super Kings squad did not show the spark needed to challenge the seniors and break into the playing XI.