Mahendra Singh Dhoni is renowned for his match-winning abilities. On Tuesday, he displayed yet another example of why he is an explosive middle-order batsman when he smashed 26 off 16 to help Chennai Super Kings defeat Rajasthan Royals by five wickets. In the process, the veteran cricketer also became the fifth highest scorer in Indian Premier League. (Match report | Scorecard | Highlights)
Dhoni's innings in front of home fans in Ranchi had a six and a four but it was the manner in which he paced the innings that highlighted the knock. His grasp on the game in fact, has helped him score 2438 runs at an average of 38.69 from 94 innings in IPL. He is now in an exclusive club of top-scorers with Suresh Raina (3035), Rohit Sharma (2728), Gautam Gambhir (2709) and Chris Gayle (2620) ahead of him.
While he leads a battalion of power-hitters, Dhoni also has his eye out for his entire squad . Against Rajasthan Royals for example, he promoted off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to No. 5. "Want to give Ashwin more responsibility. He can bat well against spinners and can rotate the strike," he said at the post-match presentation. Ashwin scored 14 off 16 at a time when the bowlers were threatening to create in-roads. (Also read: Dhoni credits Jadeja for win vs Royals)
While Dhoni may be willing to promote Ashwin in the batting line-up, the spinner needs no encouragement when it comes to rolling his arms over. He took a wicket against Rajasthan and now has 11 at an economy rate of 7.39 in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League. Teammate Mohit Sharma though is far ahead and holds the purple cap currently with 18 wickets.
With the bowling being spearheaded by Mohit's pace and Ashwin's spin, and the batting being powered by Dhoni, Chennai have positioned themselves well to claim their third IPL title although the business end of the tournament is still to come. If the numbers are a sign though, this side has the firepower to go the distance once again.