MS Dhoni’s late surge had given Chennai Super Kings a competitive 160 against Kings XI Punjab on a difficult batting pitch at the Chepauk but the defending champions still had the Chris Gayle factor to think about. On Saturday after Dhoni finished strong with the bat, Harbhajan Singh, one of his most trusted bowlers over the years, did the job. | CSK vs KXIP – Match report |
In his first over of the game, Harbhajan Singh lured Chris Gayle into a big drive and had him caught behind by MS Dhoni. In the same over, Harbhajan struck again to snare the dangerous Mayank Agarwal and even though KL Rahul and Sarfaraz Khan added 110 for the third wicket, MS Dhoni’s off-spinner had taken out two key batsmen to give CSK an upper hand.
KL Rahul and Sarfaraz struggled in the middle overs and added only 24 runs in a 5-over period even after they were well set.
MS Dhoni, who has seen some sterling Chris Gayle knocks in his time, knew the wicket of the Universe Boss would be the deciding factor. For if Gayle got going, 161 would not have looked like a big challenge – no matter how tricky the pitch was to bat on.
“We had to get Universe Boss out. Because with 160 or even 200 on the board, if Chris Gayle gets going, I don’t think you can really stop him,” MS Dhoni told the broadcasters after the match. “I think it was important for us to get a few wickets in the first six overs and not leak a lot of runs and Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) gave us that breakthrough. Otherwise, 160 is not much if Chris Gayle gets going.”
Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) April 6, 2019
MS Dhoni also knew his best bet against Chris Gayle as an off-spinner. And Harbhajan Singh was a great option to try against one of the fiercest hitters of the cricket ball in world cricket.
“The only thing that can save you from Chris Gayle is an off-spinner, especially if it’s turning a bit. Other than that, you need somebody who could swing the ball.
“I felt Bhajji was really needed there and I felt over the years only the off-spinners have put some pressure on Chris Gayle. Other than that, even if you bowl very quick it really does not matter to him. If you can swing the ball at 128-130 kmph.. he gives you more respect than if bowl very quick,” Dhoni said.
MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli were not too impressed with the Chennai pitch after the opening game of the 2019 IPL. On Saturday, Dhoni said the pitch was tougher to bat on in the first innings but it got fractionally better in the second innings.
“I think the first innings was even tougher (for batting) and as the game progressed and we got into the second half, the pitch slowly got slightly better to bat on. But still it was tough.. it was not a placid wicket where you can just feet there and just hit or swing the bat. I felt it needed a bit of work and the spinners bowled very well for us.
“We just had two fast bowlers which meant we had to give them a few runs in the last two or three overs and that responsibility was with the spinners and we were able to accumulate a lot of runs for the fast bowlers,” Dhoni said.