Chennai Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has probably played his final competitive match at the iconic Eden Gardens Stadium in Kolkata. If Sunday night’s Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 match is indeed his final one in Kolkata, Dhoni would be a pleased man as his side defeated Shah Rukh Khan-owned Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by a massive 49 runs to jump to the top of the IPL 2023 Points Table.
Dhoni later revealed that next IPL 2023 game, the Eden Gardens will witness the familiar purple hue but Sunday was about ‘his farewell’, in what could be his final appearance at the iconic stadium. Having first stepped on this ground as a teenager, who played Ranji Trophy for Bihar, Kolkata’s favourite son-in-law has a manic fan base as one saw Eden Gardens filled with yellow jersey, anticipating that they might not see the special man again.
“I will just say thanks for the support, they came in big numbers. Most of these guys will come in a KKR jersey next time. They are trying to give me a farewell, so thanks a lot to the crowd,” Dhoni said at the post-match presentation.
Dhoni was all praise for his bowlers as they executed the plans well despite boundary being short on one side. “Fast bowlers are doing their job, so are spinners in the middle. The wicket was short on one side so we needed to get early wickets and keep the pressure. They have plenty of power hitters, so we had to give the respect to the opposition,” the CSK skipper said.
CSK is hamstrung by injuries to first team players like Ben Stokes and Deepak Chahar but that’s the last thing on Dhoni’s mind. “I have a clear funda. If someone is injured, he can’t do anything. You just move on and motivate the youngsters to perform. We have been fortunate that all the guys coming in are performing,” he said.
Ajinkya Rahane has got a new-found rhythm in T20 cricket after joining CSK and Dhoni feels that he has been given complete freedom to operate in the manner he wants to. The results are there for all to see. Rahane was the ‘Player of the Match’ for scoring 71 not out off 29 balls against his former IPL side KKR.
“We realise the potential of someone when we allow him to bat the way he bats. We give him the freedom, give him the best position. In a team environment, someone has to sacrifice his slot to allow others to get more comfortable, and allow the team to succeed,” Dhoni said about Rahane.
(with PTI inputs)