IPL 2021: MS Dhoni looking to play as a wicketkeeper and mentor more than a batsman: Ajit Agarkar

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni
Rudransh Khurana

Ajit Agarkar believes that MS Dhoni is looking to play the role of a 'mentor' and wicketkeeper-captain instead of as a match-winning batsman for Chennai Super Kings (CSK).

MS Dhoni has played two innings in IPL 2021, batting at no. 7 on both occasions. This is contrary to his assertion last season when MS Dhoni said that he preferred to bat higher up the order to give himself more time to get his eye in.

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Agarkar said that although it's still early days in the tournament, MS Dhoni's batting position is a 'bit strange' given how well he has performed higher up the order.

"Maybe that's the way he looks at his role: captaining the team, being the mentor and wicketkeeper, more than batting. It's still early in the tournament; we will know for sure in the next two or three games. But for MS Dhoni walking out to bat at no. 7 when the situation is almost tailor-made, and he has done it so many times over his career was a bit strange for me," said Agarkar.

The former pacer explained that MS Dhoni has lacked game time between seasons and perhaps that's why he has shunted himself to the lower order.

"It's so early in the tournament, he doesn't have any cricket between IPLs, which makes it even harder as you age, and no matter what you see, the guys who are scoring runs in the IPL have come with some sort of form. There's no substitute for playing competitive cricket. Maybe that's the way he is looking at it (now)," added Agarkar.

MS Dhoni has played two rusty knocks from the no. 7 spot in IPL 2021. The first, a 2-ball duck, came against Delhi Capitals in CSK's tournament opener. He then batted at the same position against Rajasthan Royals on Monday, scoring a 17-ball 18, which included two boundaries.

MS Dhoni still has a 'fear factor': Dale Steyn

Dale Steyn (right)
Dale Steyn (right)

During the same interaction, former South African fast bowler Dale Steyn suggested that MS Dhoni's batting position is his own call to take. Steyn remarked that, contrary to the general perception, the former Indian captain still carries a 'fear factor'.

He added that irrespective of MS Dhoni's age, recent form or batting position, every opposition girds for him as seriously as ever.

"Only he knows how well he's batting and how well he feels. I know certainly that if I was playing against MS Dhoni, then a night before I will still be sitting there taking it extremely seriously that 'I am coming up against MS Dhoni tomorrow'. So from a fear factor, he still has a massive role to play. And wherever he's going to bat in that lineup, captains are going to arrange their bowlers to use against 'the' MS Dhoni. They know if he's going to come in the last three overs, they will have to change their line-up and what not. So he still has that fear factor. But it's really up to him how he wants to go about this season," said Steyn.

It will be interesting to see where the legendary wicketkeeper-batsman plays in CSK's next game against Kolkata Knight Riders on April 15.

Edited by Bhargav
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