Skipper Dhoni Batting Under Scrutiny as Supergiants' Struggles Amplify Twofold
PUNE: While players like Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina have been leading their IPL teams from the front, MS Dhoni, of all people, is getting plenty of stick for failing to do so with Rising Pune Supergiants as the tournament edges towards the halfway mark.
As his side languishes in the bottom half of the table with two wins from six matches, Dhoni has scored only 92 runs from six innings, and averages 30.66, the Indian limited-overs captain’s lowest in any edition. His only notable contribution of 41, from 38 balls, came in a losing cause against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
With the Pune top-order not comprising many hard-hitters, the RPS captain has also been accused of spending more time in the dugout than at the crease, sending in Kevin Pietersen, Steve Smith and even all-rounders like Thisara Perera and Albie Morkel ahead of him.
When he has delivered coming down the order, like his unbeaten knocks of 22 from 10 balls against Gujarat Lions and 23 from 12 versus Kolkata Knight Riders, they have given the impression of being too little, too late, and failed to influence the outcome of the game.
“Dhoni is one of the most destructive batsmen in the world at the moment, but at times, he too can be shut down by the opposite team,” coach Stephen Fleming said of the situation. “It has been a different role for Dhoni so far. He’s most effective at the close of the innings,” he said.
“There are also players like Perera, Morkel and Mitchel Marsh, who can hit the ball hard, and the captain, as well as myself, want to test our resources. You can’t structure your batting order entirely on Dhoni’s position,” said the Kiwi legend, further adding that the team ‘cannot sit around Dhoni’.
“Yes, we want to use one of the best hitters in the game, but we don’t want other talents sitting there and getting wasted. So, sometimes, he waits and sometimes, he gets to the middle early,” the former Chennai Super Kings coach said.
However, with the Pune outfit reeling under injury worries with KP, and now the in-form Faf du Plessis, ruled out for the entirety of the tournament, and the rest of the top order failing regularly, it might finally be time for Dhoni to promote himself and work wonders, thus saving his side’s season.