CSK failed to make the playoffs in IPL 2020 for the first time in the tournament's history. However, they staged a grand comeback in this year's edition of the IPL as they were placed at the top of the table when all teams had played half of their league phase matches.
During a discussion on Star Sports, Irfan Pathan picked MS Dhoni's leadership as one of the defining factors when asked about the reason for CSK's turnaround this year.
"We always talk about the captain. MS Dhoni has a huge role to play in that. There was not much contribution from his batting as his batting is not the same as we used to see in his peak," said Pathan.
While acknowledging that the inclusion of Moeen Ali and the return of Suresh Raina had a significant say, the former CSK player lauded MS Dhoni for managing his resources effectively.
"The inclusion of Moeen Ali made a huge difference. Suresh Raina brought a different flair, indeed his performance was not that good. But MS Dhoni had a huge responsibility on how he manages his troops and he did that very well," added Pathan.
MS Dhoni's promotion of Moeen Ali and Ravindra Jadeja in the batting order proved to be masterstrokes as the two southpaws were able to provide the required impetus to the CSK innings. The talismanic skipper also stuck with Ruturaj Gaikwad despite a few initial failures and the stylish opener showcased his credentials in the last few matches.
"A lot of credit goes to MS Dhoni" - Irfan Pathan
Irfan Pathan also showered praise on MS Dhoni for utilizing his spinners effectively even on the batting-friendly surface in Mumbai, where CSK played their first five matches.
"The biggest thing was to win matches with spin on the Wankhede pitch, it is not possible for everyone. So, a lot of credit goes to MS Dhoni but the presence of Moeen Ali had a great impact on the entire team combination," said Pathan.
MS Dhoni's excellent reading of the game was best exemplified in CSK's encounter against the Rajasthan Royals (RR).
The 39-year-old was quick to inform Ravindra Jadeja that the drier ball will take more turn after it was replaced when Jos Buttler smashed a six into the stands. The left-arm spinner took heed of the advice and castled the RR opener with a delivery that spun sharply.