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IPL 2024: CSK coach Stephen Fleming reveals actual reason behind MS Dhoni's batting position

Published at :May 9, 2024 at 11:30 PM
Modified at :May 9, 2024 at 11:30 PM
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MS Dhoni has scored 110 runs in 49 balls faced in IPL 2024 this season.

Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) head coach Stephen Fleming has put an end to questions about MS Dhoni’s batting position in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024. His words came ahead of the team’s next fixture against Gujarat Titans (GT) which will be played on May 10, in Ahmedabad.

Recently, MS Dhoni, for the first time in his T20 career, batted at No. 9 against Punjab Kings. However, he couldn’t do much and was clean-bowled for a golden duck by Harshal Patel.

MS Dhoni has been batting at No. 8 in this IPL 2024, has had success with his cameos, and has a strike rate of 224 plus. He has scored 110 runs in 11 matches with a best of 37*. He had faced 49 balls and hit 10 fours and 9 sixes thus far.

Recently reports had suggested that MS Dhoni has been nursing a muscle tear in his leg and hence is batting down to minimize running between the wickets. Even as Harbhajan Singh kicked off a debate about Dhoni’s utility in the CSK setup should he be batting so low in the order, the franchise has come up with its version of Dhoni’s batting position.

CSK knows what MS Dhoni can give and we will maximize it: Stephen Fleming

On the eve of the GT match, CSK coach Stephen Fleming refutes reports of MS Dhoni being injured, he said that the franchise is managing his workload.

“We’re managing his workload. It’s risky and we’ve seen that early on in the season with a little bit of muscle injury, that if he bats too long, we run the risk of losing him. So we’re trying to find that balance where he can have an impact on the match by just hitting sixes and fours, which he’s done pretty well and kept as well as some of the best in the competition, if not the best in the competition,” Fleming told reporters, quoted by Cricbuzz.

Fleming insisted that Dhoni would not be asked to bat in a situation where he would have to stay at the wicket for too long.

“So don’t underestimate his influence on the team just because he comes in at number nine. There’s a timing aspect, but we’re very wary of what he can give us and we will max that out, but we don’t want to max it out where we lose him. So it’s a delicate balance,” Fleming added.

Recently, Harbhajan Singh said that if MS Dhoni is batting at no.9, he shouldn’t play and CSK can utilize the spot for another bowler.

Reacting to this, Fleming said: “We’ve said earlier on that when he recovered from knee surgery last year, which was quite debilitating for him, there was going to be a certain workload this year that he could manage. Now, one of our challenges is that we’ve got a good backup keeper, but he’s no MS Dhoni and we want to keep MS Dhoni on the field, doing what he does best, which is the last two, three overs, four overs with the bat and his keeping and his ability to share tactical advice with the new captain is really important. So we’re valuing some other things.”

Specifically asked if Dhoni is nursing an injury, Fleming categorically denied it. “I’ve told you, there’s nothing there in terms of small muscle injury ages ago, but it’s only become news now. Yeah, he can run. He’s not going to bat for a long period of time, so finding that point, and keeping is fine. He’s very economical with his movement, so he can keep in his hands, and his hand-eye [coordination] and speed is as good as any. So no problem with that. We’re just guarding against him, batting for five or six overs, having to sprint every couple of balls. So it’s a specific role that we’re using him for.”

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