Finisher MSD still not finished


The tenth edition of the Indian Premier League did not begin on an ideal note for Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Even as theories behind his removal from captaincy died down, Dhoni was in the spotlight for his fluctuating form.

Critics believed the legendary cricketer had lost the ability to win matches like the way he would during his prime. Following a string of subdued performances, the vintage Dhoni arrived against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Pune’s sixth game of the season. The wicketkeeper-batsman essayed a nerveless innings of 61 not out under pressure and clinched a last-ball thriller for his side in style.

On Tuesday at a packed Wankhede stadium, in a game as big as the Qualifier 1 and up against a dangerous side like Mumbai Indians, the 35-year-old once again came to the rescue of his team with an unbeaten 40 off 26 balls.

Despite Rahane’s half-century (56), Pune were still in a spot of bother at 89/3 in the 13th over when Dhoni arrived. The right-hander stepped down the track and launched Karn Sharma over mid-wicket for a six in the 15th over. But his aggression was curtailed by some brilliant bowling from Mumbai and with two overs to go, Pune were struggling at 121/3.

Mitchell McClenaghan, Mumbai’s highest wicket-taker of the season (19), bowled the penultimate over and what unfolded couldn’t stop even the home fans from going crazy. 

Dhoni moved across and smashed a huge six over mid-wicket. A couple of balls later, Dhoni clubbed two more sixes over bowler’s head to leave him rattled.

The talismanic batsman wasn’t done yet. In the final over, he took on Jasprit Bumrah, perhaps one of the best death bowlers today. His two sixes off Bumrah weren’t bad deliveries. Dhoni latched on to a back of a length ball and sent it over the fence with sheer power and anticipation. 

“MS bhai played outstanding shots. It was not easy against Bumrah but he showed why he is such a talented player. His ability to hit more than two-three sixes against the best bowlers of IPL this season should be lauded and we reached a total that proved to be good at the end of the day,” said Manoj Tiwary, who slammed a crucial 58 in Pune’s 20-run win over Mumbai.

Mumbai opener Parthiv Patel gave full credit to Dhoni. “Bumrah in the past has been successful against Dhoni. But he (Dhoni) is obviously a good player so you have to give credit to the calibre of the batsman as well,” he said.

Tiwary conceded that Dhoni has made a big influence on the field with his leadership skills. “It is very evident. He is manoeuvring the fielders and talking to the youngsters. Smith (Steve) has too much on his plate and Mahi bhai is always ready to help him,” he said.

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