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Match Analysis

Pretorius provides crucial prelude to Dhoni vs Unadkat

CSK's eighth-wicket pair put on a masterclass in calculating the percentages and maximising favourable match-ups

S Sudarshanan
22-Apr-2022
There's something about MS Dhoni and finishing chases, irrespective of whether he is the protagonist or a guiding light (think of the Pallekele ODI against Sri Lanka in 2017). His latest act on Thursday was a mix of both.
Chennai Super Kings needed 54 from 31 balls when Dhoni walked in. Dwaine Pretorius joined him soon after, with the team 50 away with 26 balls left.
Jasprit Bumrah and Jaydev Unadkat were to bowl the last four overs with 48 required.
Those following the match-ups knew that they favoured Dhoni against Unadkat - 83 runs scored off 36 balls in all T20s before Thursday, with only one dismissal.
But it was about Pretorius before it was about Dhoni.
The South Africa allrounder, playing his third match of IPL 2022, perhaps knew Bumrah would go for the yorker and, therefore, wanted to attempt the scoop, but Dhoni asked him to wait. That over went for just six runs, with Pretorius managing to dig out two of the three yorkers for singles. In the 18th over, he whipped Unadkat over fine leg for six before taking a couple of fours - one of which came via the scoop - off Bumrah in the 19th. Forty-two off 18 had become 28 off 12 and thanks to Pretorius' calculated assault on Mumbai Indians' premier bowler, it came down to Super Kings needing 17 off the final over.
"I wanted to go for that scoop shot in the first over against Bumrah but he [Dhoni] said wait, wait, wait and I waited," Pretorius told Star Sports after the match. "The next time I said that now I am going [for the scoop] and he said go for it."
Pretorius had survived a run-out chance at the start of the penultimate over, when Rohit Sharma missed his shy at the striker's end, but fell lbw to Unadkat off the first ball of the last over. But with his 14-ball 22, Pretorius had shaved off almost half the runs required at the time he had walked in. In that period, Dhoni scored ten runs from seven balls, but now he had his match-up against Unadkat.
With 16 needed from four balls, Dhoni hit a full delivery down the ground for a six before pulling a slow bouncer over short fine leg to bring the equation down to six from two. Rohit had his cap over his eyes with an air of helplessness as the decibel levels rose. Dhoni whipped the next ball through midwicket and galloped back for two.
In a bid to bowl one in the blockhole, Unadkat then delivered a low full toss on the pads, which Dhoni duly put away past short fine leg. Unadkat stood still. Rohit's resigned eyes told a story. Kieron Pollard and Bumrah dragged themselves - in awe and disappointment in equal measure, it seemed - to shake hands of the iceman.
"He's the master at finishing off games and did it again tonight," Pretorius said.
Dhoni versus Unadkat after the latest episode reads thus: 105 runs scored off 43 balls at a strike rate of 244.18. It is the best by any batter who has faced at least 35 balls against a particular bowler in the IPL.
"I think both dugouts would have been under pressure," Ravindra Jadeja said at the post-match press conference. "The best finisher of the world was in the middle and we knew that if he stayed till the end, he would definitely win us the game.
"I have seen many matches where Mahi bhai has won the game for India and in the IPL too. It is good to see that he is hungry and in good touch. There's a calmness in the dressing room whenever he is around."

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo