MS Dhoni was keen to build on the start Chennai Super Kings got when he came out to bat against Sunrisers Hyderabad but, he said, much of the credit for his spectacular half-century should go to the conditions. Dhoni blitzed 63 off 19 balls to propel Super Kings to 202, which eventually turned out to be a winning score - but not by too much.
"We got off to a good start and it was important to build on that. One-eight-plus was easily chased here [by Super Kings against Titans], so considering the platform we got from Badri [Badrinath] and [Suresh] Raina, I looked to hit and it worked," Dhoni said after the game. "I think the credit goes to the wicket. And, as you see these days, boundaries are not very big in T20s."
Short boundaries aside, dew, like in the game against Titans, played a big role in making it hard work for the bowlers all through. On Sunday, against Titans, Super Kings chased 186 with more ease than the margin of four wickets (with seven balls to spare) indicated. Here too, Sunrisers were in the running to get 203 while their openers Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel were adding 87 in nine overs. Once Super Kings got the breakthrough, though, the asking rate got away from Sunrisers depsite Darren Sammy's late fight.
Credit for Super Kings' total would also have to go to Raina, who, for the second time in two games, put them in a winning position after they had lost M Vijay for a duck. Raina was involved in a 60-run stand with Dhoni, in 4.1 overs, on his way to 84 from 57. Speaking to the CLT20 website, Raina said Dhoni's knock showed what a well-rounded batsman he is. "He is one of the finest players in the world. He knows exactly when to hit big and when to rotate the strike," Raina said. "He is one of the finest strikers of the cricket ball.
"I have learned a lot from him in terms of how to bat in pressure situations, how to keep your nerve and control your emotions. You need to be very clear in your mind about how exactly you want to plan your innings."
Raina said he was eager to play the big knock after giving his wicket after getting to 47 in the Titans match. "In the first game, when I scored 47, my plan was totally different. After that I decided that now when I get to a good start, I will bat till the end. I'm happy that I came from 47 to 84 today. Hopefully in the next game I'll try to play 60-70 balls and maybe get a 100."
Super Kings batting, their traditional strength, made sure they've won two in two to begin the tournament, but the bowling remains a worry. Dhoni said managing in the field in unhelpful conditions was something the team had to work on. "I feel there were situations where we could have finished the overs well, say after giving a boundary in the first few balls of the over. It's important to bowl dot balls, [if not] the side batting second can rotate freely and even if the required run rate is 11-12 per over, with dew around, it is chaseable.
"The wicket was very good as the game progressed. There was more dew on the field later on and the ball was coming on nicely. It was difficult for the fast bowlers to execute [but] it worked well for those who used variations."
Super Kings have one more game in Ranchi, on Saturday against Brisbane Heat, to get their bowling right, before they move to Delhi for their final group game.