Mahendra Singh Dhoni made a return to cricket action after more than a year of absence in the 2020 Indian Premier League. Dhoni had last appeared on a cricket field in the 2019 World Cup semifinal in July 2019.
In the opening game of the tournament, Dhoni came to bat at number seven but the decision paid off due to Sam Curran's heroics against Mumbai Indians. However, Dhoni's late arrival backfired in CSK's second match against Rajasthan Royals.
The CSK captain opted to play behind Sam Curran, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Kedar Jadhav in the 217-run chase, and raised eyebrows with his gameplan as he opted to play in singles and doubles for the large part of his innings, having arrived at the crease when the side needed 103 runs to win in 37 balls.
While Gautam Gambhir was critical of Dhoni and said that he has not led from the front, former Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra has defended the CSK captain, saying that Dhoni is a "realist."
“It was also about the fact that Dhoni hadn’t played competitive cricket in 14 months. After the game against Rajasthan, he admitted that he was rusty. The long layoff, followed by the long quarantine did not help his cause as a batsman,” Chopra wrote on his column for ESPNCricinfo.
“What it tells me about Dhoni is that he is a realist, for he is the first to admit that his lack of confidence in his batting abilities played a part in the making of those crucial decisions. There’s a thin line between bravado and foolishness, and also a thin line that separates caution and fear,” he added.
He further wrote that Dhoni didn't let his "ego come in way of a pragmatic decision."
“I think the idea of demoting himself in the first two games was not to shy away from the responsibilities of a leader but to give Chennai the best shot at winning the game. Dhoni felt that he wasn’t ready to bring the team home and chose not to let ego come in the way of a pragmatic decision," wrote the former Indian opener.
“He started this tournament with no form whatsoever and has now worked himself into some kind of form with the three sixes in the final over against the Royals. As the matches shift to venues where scores in excess of 200 won’t come about too often, Dhoni might quietly start fitting himself into places in the batting order from where he will be able to make significant contributions to wins,” Chopra said.