During the first qualifier, Rising Pune Supergiant had managed to score 121 for three in 18 overs against Mumbai Indians on Tuesday. M.S. Dhoni was at the crease with just 14 runs of 17 balls with Manoj Tiwary on the other end.
That was a stage where Pune seemed helpless as they were setting up a below par score for the two-time IPL champions, playing at their home ground. With a blistering batting line-up of Pune, something else was expected at that moment.
But with Dhoni at the crease, things were bound to change in a whisker. As expected, he exploded in his typical style as Pune hammered 41 off the last two overs giving Mumbai Indians a challenging total.
MS Dhoni’s match finishing capabilities were tested several times in the tournament but on the required day it all fell together nicely for the best finisher of limited overs and T20 format.
Former Australian captain Michael Clarke has always praised Dhoni for his game and he expressed his opinion on how Dhoni’s innings made the difference for Pune in the first playoff.
“That changed the game. The fact that Pune managed to get over the 160-run mark, the confidence in the change room was different. Pune took that momentum walking in to the field. The pitch was such that it took batsmen some time to get in and MS did take some time but he knew he could change it in the end,” Clarke told India Today.
Clarke said Dhoni’s true value has been lost while focusing too much around his batting skills.
“What has gone unnoticed is his wicket-keeping. That’s his primary job and he has been the best in the competition.
Secondly, he is a batsman and you want him to bat well because you know how good he is and on Tuesday night he did that.
“The other thing about great players which MS does is to stand up when the team needs you the most. He is one of the few who stands up on big occasions consistently. Tuesday night was another example,” he said.
DHONI HOLDS KEY TO INDIA’S CHAMPIONS TROPHY SUCCESS
Clarke believes that Dhoni will perform at his best in the Champions Trophy in England next month. “I think he is still as good as he has been. I have said this through the IPL and will continue to say that through the Champions Trophy, India has made a smart decision in picking him for the tournament.
“He deserves to be there. He is the best wicket-keeper in the country. His batting is still as good as it always was. He has shown form in patches in the IPL and I have no doubt he will show us (what he can do) in Champions Trophy,” he said.
Clarke suggests that Kohli should make Dhoni bat at No.5 on a consistent basis to have the kind of impact Andrew Symonds did for Australia.
“I am really interested to see where Virat bats him in the Champions Trophy. I would bat him at No.4 in T20 cricket and 5 in ODIs like Australia did with Andrew Symonds. His experience, his skill will play a huge role if India is to win the trophy,” he said.