MS Dhoni was at his menacing best during his Chennai Super Kings (CSK) narrow one-run loss against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), here at the Chinnaswamy. By playing a vintage 84-run knock, which just came of 48 deliveries, Dhoni almost pulled off a miraculous chase on Sunday.
Chasing 162, CSK managed to score 160/8 in their stipulated 20 overs, thus succumbing to their second consecutive loss in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The visitors, during the chase, were at one stage reeling at 28/4. That's when Dhoni came to his team's rescue and almost managed to snatch away victory.
With 66 runs needed in the final two overs, the 37-year-old took the matters in his own hands and got CSK over the line by smashing 24 runs in the first five balls of Umesh Yadav's final over.
With two needed of the final ball, Dhoni played and missed it which saw Parthiv Patel score a direct hit to run out Shardul Thakur to seal RCB's win.
During the course of the chase, the former India skipper had categorically declined taking singles off three balls in the penultimate over when they needed 36 runs, preferring to keep strike than passing it on to new batsman Dwayne Bravo, who was at the other end.
Questioned about his decision, Dhoni said, "As I had played so many deliveries, I could afford to take that risk because a lot of runs were needed. I think in 10 or 12 deliveries, we needed something close to 40 runs or 36 runs or something like that, which meant a lot of boundaries were needed."
"So yes, right now you can calculate, two runs over there, one run over there, and we are through, because we lost by one run, but at the same time what you have to see is what if there were a few dot balls, whether we could have got those extra boundaries or not," he added.
The CSK skipper further said that Dwayne Bravo would have found it difficult to connect on the "spungy" track. "It was still difficult at the end. It was slightly spungy (the pitch) and the new batsmen found it difficult. Boundaries were needed and yes we have lost by one run but at the same time we have to see what if there were few dot balls and whether we could have got those extra boundaries or not."
CSK's head coach Stephen Fleming also did not question Dhoni's decision, saying the wicketkeeper-batsman was the best to judge the situation.
"I think more the reason was that Dhoni felt he was best equipped to hit those sixes. The way he calculates the last few overs based on his power, he would have looked at it saying 'I need four-five sixes to win the game'. As it panned out it was pretty close. He's so calculative, I would never question the last part of an innings with MS," Fleming said in the post-match press conference.
"Yes Bravo has power but if MS feels he's going to win it this way then I'd back him every time. He's done it so many times and look tonight he got us so close again. So I'd never question that," he added.
Dhoni, however, was critical of his top-order batsman while chasing a "below-par total". "It's just that batting, once you go in and that's the time you need to think as an individual what really is needed for the team as of now whether it's a partnership needed or few big shots," Dhoni said.
"It's easy to go and play the big shot and even if I get out others will do the job. The problem arises once you play a big shot and you can't really get out because that puts a lot of pressure on the other batsmen. That's something we need to calculate," he added.
Dhoni insisted that his team needed to get a good start as it would allow their middle-order to play more freely.
"I think it was a good game. We did really well to restrict them to a below par total, but we needed some good batting at the top. Once you know the opposition attack, you gotta stick to your plans and if you lose too many wickets upfront that puts pressure and the middle order really can't go after the bowlers from the start. We have to carefully see what are the areas we want to take that risk."
Despite the two consecutive losses, CSK is still pretty at the top of the table with 14 points from 10 games.