CSK vs KKR – IPL 2021
KKR captain Morgan said that from 31 for 5 in the chase, he didn’t expect the game to go so close
MS Dhoni felt that he couldn’t really do much as the fielding captain when Andre Russell and Pat Cummins were putting the Chennai Super Kings bowlers to the sword in a high-scoring thriller at the Wankhede Stadium.
“It’s quite easy (to keep calm) in a game like this because from the 15th, maybe 16th over onwards, the contest was between the fast bowler and the batsman,” Dhoni told host broadcaster Star Sports after the game, which Kolkata Knight Riders lost by 18 runs. “You can’t really do much, you can’t put a lot of different fields. There was a bit of dew so the ball comes on nicely.
“So it was all about ‘You vs me’. How well I’m executing, what are you doing to get runs off me. The side that has won is maybe the side that executed slightly better. But if they had wickets in hand, you never know. On a wicket like this, if the full 20 overs were completed, it would have been a very close game.”
Russell walked in at 31 for 5 in 5.2 overs with the Super Kings in complete command but blitzed the bowlers for a 22-ball 54 that ended only when he misjudged a Sam Curran ball on leg and let it go, only for it to crash into leg stump. The Knight Riders were 112 for 6 then in 11.2 overs with all chances of victory seemingly vanishing, but Cummins stepped up to blast an unbeaten 66 off 34 and keep the game alive till the final over.
“You don’t want to take too many early wickets,” Dhoni said when asked how he dealt with the batters smashing it. “With the big-hitters coming in, and 200 runs (as a target), there is only one way they will be playing, and I feel Andre Russell did that today. Not much you can really do. The only option was (Ravindra) Jadeja if he could have got him out, because it was spinning a bit, stopping a bit. But other than that, it was a contest between the bowler and the batsman.”
“No,” Dhoni laughed when asked if Russell’s dismissal was planned. “That’s the beauty of it, once you are successful. I think I should have said, ‘Yeah that was the plan you know. Because we have bowled so many outside off, one on the leg stump, we would have taken a wide.’ But it was not really planned.”
Eoin Morgan admitted that he didn’t think the Knight Riders would have got as close as they did, saying, “Certainly from the position we were in after the powerplay, God’s honest truth, we probably didn’t think we’d get as close as we did.”
Dhoni was pragmatic about his side’s chances. “Frankly, I’ve seen enough in cricket and I always like to be humble,” he said. “There is no good reason if you have scored why the opposition can’t score the same number of runs. Each and every IPL team have got a few big-hitters. So it’s very important to be humble, give that respect to that opposition.
“We have seen in quite a few games the opposition score runs what we thought in cricket was not really possible to do. That’s what my lines were to the players. I said, ‘We’ve got good runs on the board but let’s be humble. Let’s keep doing what we are supposed to do and focus on that.'”
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo