Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming has said he was "perfectly happy" with where MS Dhoni batted in the IPL final against Mumbai Indians and stated that the captain batted at No. 7 because he was there to win the game for the team.
Chasing 149 at the Eden Gardens, Super Kings were reeling at 3 for 3 within the first 10 balls, as they lost Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina and S Badrinath. But captain Dhoni came out to the middle only in the seventh over when they had lost two more wickets, of Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja, with the score on 36, with Mumbai in control of the game.
"He has a role to play," Fleming said. "He was left not out at the end after recovering a pretty poor innings but the strength of the side is that we have key players that come in at key times and if you've watched most of the season you would have seen that."
Despite being unbeaten, Dhoni ran out of partners as wickets kept falling and the asking rate kept rising. His 45-ball 63, including five sixes, wasn't enough as Super Kings fell short by 23 runs.
"He is there to win the game for us," Fleming said. "We have other players that should have put us in a position to win. They didn't do that so he had to recover the situation. And hence he went in when he did. But I'm perfectly happy with where he batted."
Super Kings won 11 out of 16 league matches this season and won more matches than any other team away from home. But their franchise was affected by off-field issues after their top official, Gurunath Meiyappan, was arrested by Mumbai Police.
"We actually had a pretty good IPL," Fleming said. "It was…trouble-free up to the last week, [but] we as a team played very well. We're usually inconsistent but we were probably the most consistent we've ever been and even in that semi-final we played well and deserved to be at the top.
"I guess as a coach it's very satisfying that we were able to maintain an element of consistency in a long and topsy-turvy tournament. But we just got through a lot in the last week and we didn't respond that well and we would have loved to have responded well on the field but we were outplayed so hats off to Mumbai."
Super Kings played their fourth consecutive IPL final, and their fifth overall, but failed to get their hands on the trophy, like last year. Admitting to a lacklustre display in this year's final, Fleming was keen to set the record straight next time.
"Last year we lost when we played well, this year we lost playing poorly, well the batting side of it was poor. We're still proud of making five out of six finals but we'd like to have won four out of five or three out of five, for sure. The fact that we won two is great but this certainly hurts and the goal now is to get into this situation again and try and rectify it."
Fleming was lavish in his praise for Mumbai's bowling which routed Chennai to 39 for 6 in the eighth over. "I thought [Lasith] Malinga bowled an outstanding spell," he said. "He took the new ball for them, which he hasn't done for a while and they looked desperate. It was almost like they knew they were short of runs, that it was only a par score.
"We just had to get through that first spell and it was something in the short break that we talked about and look with Mike Hussey, he got probably one of the best balls of the IPL and that certainly gives any side a lift and he has the same effect on us."