"Batting down the order was like quicksand," says MS Dhoni
From the long-maned wunderkind he announced himself as in 2005, the man who toyed with the best bowlers in the game at his leisure, to the more subsided batsman who got slower but became reliable, Indian legend MS Dhoni has unfolded a new chapter in his cricketing career by turning a new leaf.
"I was sure in my mind that I wanted to bat up the order, because with age, me batting down the order was like quicksand," Dhoni said at an event in Mumbai. "I wanted to make sure that I wanted to take the responsibility of winning the game, but I was coming so down the order that I was not giving time to myself."
"So, it was more like quicksand: the more I flutter, the deeper I would go. So, I said that I want to make a team where we bat deep, that gives me a chance to bat up the order," Dhoni said speaking of the revamp in the Chennai Super Kings line-up, where after spending years at the number 7 position, the wicket-keeper batsman upgraded his spot sometimes as high as number 4. The move turned out to be a masterstroke as Dhoni's experience was found invaluable in pressure situations and also allowed him enough time to settle before moving to the higher gears, something that he struggled to do successfully batting lower down in the last few seasons.
He had his second most productive season to date, with 455 runs and 30 occasions on which he cleared the ropes with his almighty pick-up strokes. His most notable innings was a 34-ball 70 against Royal Challengers Bangalore while chasing a mammoth 205. Thus once again, Dhoni baffled everyone with his ever-changing tactics and evolving stratagem, even though on the field he does not look the most innovative of captains. Perhaps his genius lies in the intricate adjustments that are not explicitly visible.
Dhoni's resurgence can have further implications on the structure of the Indian ODI and T20 sides as well. With the number 4 spot up for grabs after the likes of Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul and many more made unsuccessful cases for it, Dhoni can fill that void providing more balance to the line-up. That will allow Suresh Raina to slot further below in the pecking order to play in situations where he can play his strokes more freely, and the recent surge in Hardik Pandya's stocks would mean that he is more than capable to take up the finisher's role in the side.