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Dhoni the Finisher? Not Anymore!

March 27, 2024 15:39 IST

'Impact Player' rule has allowed Dhoni to come in at No.8 even though it looks crazy: Mike Hussey

MS Dhoni

Photograph: Kind courtesy BCCI

Chennai Super Kings batting coach Michael Hussey said that the 'Impact Player' rule has lengthened their batting order, allowing former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to come in as late as number eight during this IPL.

The 'Impact Player' rule, introduced from 2023 edition, allows each franchise to name five substitutes, one of whom could come on as a substitute during the course of the match.

Playing against Gujarat Titans here on Tuesday, CSK managed to post a match-winning total of 206 for six.

However, with seven batters coming out to bat, there were no signs of Dhoni coming in even as his fans got a bit impatient.

"It's definitely been a directive from head coach (Stephen) Fleming to keep pushing the game forward. The 'Impact Player' has lengthened the batting order, with MSD at number eight, which is crazy, and he is batting well (in the nets) at the moment," Hussey told reporters during the post-game media interaction.


"Because of this, the batters up the order can take the positive (attacking) route. They certainly have the backing from the coaches and the captain. Even if they get out doing so, it's fine, and they won't be criticised. We want to keep playing fast."

Among the performers for CSK was New Zealand's Rachin Ravindra, who continued his blazing form with a 20-ball 46.

Explaining how he worked with Rachin during the pre-season, Hussey stated that it was all about allowing him to "play his best cricket".

"He's had a great start; it's awesome to watch. He's come here with great energy and wants to learn more and make a positive impact on the team. He's gone out there with a clear mind and a nice positive attitude," he stated.

"He's enjoying his time and soaking up as much knowledge as he can. He gets a bit (of energy) from the crowd as well, and once he hits a couple of shots, his confidence grows, and he feels that he can perform on this stage."

Hussey feels that his work is mainly to ensure that Rachin stays in a positive frame of mind to produce optimum results.

"There's not a lot to work on given the world-class player that he is. It's more about trying to get them to the best frame of mind and to go out there and play their best cricket. So, it's not about him improving too much, but help him go out there to enjoy and play his best cricket."

It was two in two for new CSK skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad, replacing Dhoni, while Hussey termed him a 'cricket-savvy guy'.

"Rutu is fantastic and very well-prepared. He, along with Fleming and MSD get together to talk tactics before the game," he reckoned.
"But, the way he changes the field, he has a clear mindset, and the message to the bowlers is also clear. He does have some good support around him, but he is a smart and cricket-savvy guy who understands the game well, and he's got a good team to work with as well."

One of the players being talked about for CSK was Sameer Rizvi, who struck ace GT spinner Rashid Khan for two sixes, and Hussey was all-praise for his natural hitting ability.

"He's got some natural hitting ability, especially against the spinners. He can hit a long way and is very clean. But it's still a big task for him to come out and hit arguably the best T20 bowler for a six off the first ball," he attested.

Promoting a rookie ahead of Dhoni was "masterstroke" according to Hussey.

"It was a masterstroke from the think-tank as well, as we were expecting MSD to come out and play the last few balls. But, they realised Rizvi's got some natural power against spin, and he delivered. The crowd loved it too." 

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