A candid MS Dhoni was in high spirits in the aftermath of his side’s crushing win over Sunrisers Hyderabad and revealed that he’s cherishing playing at the Chepauk again after four long years, keen on enjoying the ‘last phase’ of his career.
Dhoni, 41, has continued playing in the IPL despite announcing his retirement from international cricket in 2020 and there have been murmurs that this ongoing edition could be his last, with a theory floating that Dhoni wanted to play in front of the Chepauk crowd one last time — something he couldn’t do in the past three years — before bidding goodbye.
Dhoni did not confirm whether this ongoing season would be his last, but stated that he was ecstatic to be back playing in front of the Chepauk loyalists.
“All said and done, it's the last phase of my career, however long I play for. Important to enjoy it,” Dhoni said.
“After two years, the fans have had the opportunity to come here and watch, feels good to be here. Crowd has given us a lot of love and affection.”
It was double delight for the Chepauk crowd on Friday as apart from getting to see their Thala in action, CSK also won handsomely. It was a crushing win as the Super Kings, after winning the toss and chasing, knocked off SRH’s 134 losing just three wickets, but at the presentation Dhoni admitted that he was initially ‘hesitant’ to bat second.
“I was hesitant to bat second. Had the feeling there won't be much dew,” Dhoni said.
But the skipper attested that he was left delighted with how his bowlers operated.
“Spinners once they came in, bowled a very good length. Fast bowlers once they came back, especially Pathirana, bowled superbly."
Last season, Dhoni labeled young Matheesha Pathirana as CSK’s own Malinga and after the pacer’s showing on Friday, the CSK skipper reserved special praise for the 20-year-old, who registered figures of 1/22 (4) despite predominantly bowling at the back end.
Dhoni said that batters find it difficult to score off Pathirana due to the youngster’s awkward action, which is nearly a carbon copy of Malinga.
“You need time to pick his action (Pathirana). We have seen with Malinga - someone who has an awkward action and who is very consistent with line and length - it's difficult to score off him,” Dhoni said of Pathirana.
But it was Jadeja, and not Pathirana, who was the Player of the Match, as he returned figures of 3/22, and the left-arm spinner revealed that he was merely looking to bowl ‘good’ lengths, trying to avoid straying full.
“Coming to Chennai, looking at the wicket gives me a lot of happiness. You know it's going to turn. I had in my mind to not bowl too full. Important to keep wicket to wicket,” Jadeja said.
With the victory on Friday, CSK have moved to third on the table, level on points with both Rajasthan and Lucknow.