I’ll be honest – I didn’t see this. Not live anyway. Attempting to catch up via social media and reaction pieces, it took me quite some time to work out what had happened. There is a reason for that. The reason is that no-one seems to have noticed that MS Dhoni did NOT pull off an unbelievable run chase.
If you’ve been suffering similarly, let me be clear: MS Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings lost the match. That’s a fact – an actual fact – and you shouldn’t let any amount of hero worship persuade you otherwise.
Here’s the story. CSK were playing Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru and after 18 overs found themselves 126-6. They needed 36 to win and Dhoni was on strike.
In the 19th over, our man turned down three singles and left himself 26 to get off the final over. He then hit a series of improbable sixes and it was miraculous and wonderful and no-one could quite believe it was happening.
Then, needing just one run off the final ball for a tie…
What a finish in the #VIVOIPL! 🙌
The Royal Challengers grab victory from the jaws of defeat. pic.twitter.com/0o9k7wTnJH
— Watch the VIVO IPL on BT Sport (@btsportcricket) April 22, 2019
… MS Dhoni did not hit the ball and Shardul Thakur was run-out.
ESPNCricinfo gave CSK a one per cent chance of winning at the start of that final over. The website has since drawn attention to this as if those odds were overcome.
They were not. What happened was the ice-cold finisher failed to lay bat on ball and there was a comedy run-out.
Everyone else reported on the match in much the same way. It was a Dhoni masterclass, apparently; an innings to marvel at. It was also – I’ll say it again – a defeat.
Dhoni has built a tremendous reputation as one of limited overs cricket’s all-time great ‘finishers’. It is a reputation built on having been at the crease at the end of a great many successful run-chases.
He loves the finish of a cricket match. He loves it so much that at times he seems to have deliberately slowed easy run chases to ensure the game lasts until the final over.
God how he adores that final over. All these years and he is still taking it out to dinner and buying it lavish and well thought-out gifts on its birthday.
For a long time this irrepressible lust for taking games right to the very death was seen as just another aspect of Dhoni’s genius. But in recent years there have been a few occasions when he’s seemed oblivious to the required run-rate and has apparently been confident that the match will continue past the death and on into the afterlife.
On days like these, he’s been less a finisher and more just a man who simply enjoys being present at the finish, regardless of the result.
That view was reinforced earlier this IPL season when his last over romance entered new territory in a match against Rajasthan Royals.
Re-entering the field of play, even though he’d been dismissed earlier in the over, many assumed that Dhoni had come back on to argue with the umpires. Not true. He clearly just wanted to be a bigger part of that all-important final over.
This weekend’s version of Dhoni was closer to the finisher of old, but yet – and it really does feel necessary to keep saying this – you do all know that he didn’t actually win the match, right?
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