Former India opener Aakash Chopra has leapt in defence of MS Dhoni who has been facing the heat from several former cricketers for his batting position against Rajasthan Royals. The Chennai Super Kings skipper surprised everyone by coming to bat at number seven while his side was chasing an improbable 217.
CSK eventually lost the game by 16 runs and following the defeat, several former cricketers blasted MS Dhoni for his decision to demote himself. His former teammate Gautam Gambhir led the criticism as he said MS Dhoni did not lead from the front by dropping himself down the batting order.
“This is not what you call leading from the front. Batting at No. 7 when you’re chasing 217. The game was over. Faf was probably the lone warrior,” Gambhir had said.
The likes of Virender Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen were critical of MS Dhoni too. However, Aakash Chopra has come up with a different assessment to justify the CSK skipper’s decision.
Aakash Chopra on Dhoni:
Aakash Chopra started defending Dhoni by cheekily saying Gambhir never refrains from speaking his mind out on all matters regarding the former India skipper. He then justified Dhoni’s decision by saying that the latter’s idea of leadership is not about leading from the front.
Aakash Chopra said that Dhoni has built his captaincy legacy in IPL by promoting others ahead of him. He also pointed out his decision to promote Sam Curran in the tournament-opener against Mumbai Indians to further defend the under-fire CSK captain.
“Chennai went down without a proper fight, some would argue. Gautam Gambhir, one who isn’t known to mince words on all matters Dhoni, said that you can’t lead from the front when you keep demoting yourself when chasing a huge total. While you can’t argue with that assessment, the fact is that Dhoni’s leadership style isn’t the same as that of many captains,” he wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo.
“In fact, his idea of leadership isn’t about leading from the front all. He built his legacy as a captain, at least in franchise cricket, by pushing others ahead of him. And even in his heyday, he would go in only when things started to go pear-shaped. And he was able to rescue quite a few such missions. Of course, it didn’t happen against Rajasthan, but in the game before, against Mumbai, Dhoni promoted Curran and it turned out to be a master stroke in the end.
Dhoni’s biggest strength as captain of CSK has been his ability to focus on the big picture of the entire campaign, as opposed to getting caught up in the details of one league game. That is why in the first game of the season, he picks an XI that in his head is near-perfect, and sticks to the same personnel for as long as possible. Almost every other captain in the IPL would have benched Shane Watson halfway through the last IPL but Dhoni persisted, and it paid dividends,” he added.
CSK will be looking to get back to winning ways when they take on Delhi Capitals in the seventh match of the tournament on Friday.