Stephen Fleming, on Sunday (May 13), said that being mentally more intent and putting in hard work before the tournament has played a big part in MS Dhoni’s stunning performance this season.
Dhoni’s reputation as a finisher had taken a beating before the season started. One of the best finishers in the history of the game, the veteran batsman was not batting in the way that had made him one of the most dangerous batsmen on the planet a few years ago.
However, he has turned back the clock with some scintillating hitting in the ongoing edition of the tournament In fact, he is having the best IPL season of his life. He is not only winning games for his side almost single-handedly but is also showing unparalleled consistency.
So far, Dhoni has scored 413 runs at 103.25 with three fifties in 12 matches. Going by his current form, this is Dhoni’s best season since 2013 when he had scored 461 runs in 18 games.
Even on Sunday, he scored a handy 20 to help Chennai Super Kings beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by eight wickets. He came to the crease when the Super Kings lost Shane Watson and Suresh Raina in quick succession while chasing 180. However, he and Ambati Rayudu stitched together an unbeaten stand of 43 runs to take their team home.
“Probably mentally more intent, he practised hard before the tournament. He practised a long time, got in before any of us arrived. He had a lot of balls, had a huge volume of balls, been concentrated on his intent,” Fleming told the media after the game.
“If anything, he has probably lacked intent around his singles. (But) As soon as he hits (big shots), he plays with a 100% commitment. Even the way he starts now is very positive, his footwork is very positive, his finishing has come into the zone again. So it’s been great to watch, a lot of hard work to get there and I admire him for doing that,” Fleming added.
When asked whether Dhoni has been able to put behind his struggles against deliveries outside the off-stump, Fleming replied,
“It’s a weakness for most players. But the fact that he is so clear in his thought process and decision-making that he can (even now) access most areas that he used to when he was a bit younger.”
“There was a period when he was having to combat good bowling plans and now he has done that with good presence of mind, fitness and obviously a strong technique to back that up so he has almost got a second life. He is incredibly confident about what he can do and that’s always a great thing for us and dangerous for a death bowler,” he added.