Dubai: Isn’t Chennai Super Kings just an ordinary team without their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni? The aura of Dhoni’s presence as skipper and his contribution in the middle with the bat plays a big role. His absence due to fever resulted in Chennai crashing to a 46 runs defeat to Mumbai Indians and getting bowled out for a paltry 109 runs on Friday night.
It was Chennai’s lowest score ever on their home ground at the MA Chidamabaram Stadium. This defeat is also Chennai's first loss at home in this edition of the IPL and has now have a negative net run-rate and which has resulted them not being able to confirm a place in the playoffs.
Every fan knew that such a pathetic show was merely due to the absence of Dhoni, who not only guides the team brilliantly on the field from behind the wickets but also introduces the right bowler through a fielding setting done with precision.
Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma led from the front, by top scoring with 67 runs and doing all the things right for his team went on to bag the man of the match. Even Sharma sportingly admitted after the match that Dhoni’s absence made his team’s task easy: “It was a massive boost that MSD (Dhoni) wasn't around. Because his presence does a lot for their team. When you don't have Dhoni when they're chasing the score, then it becomes difficult for them. I'm sure their presence was missed by CSK. But he was sick, it's not in his control either. But as I said, coming here and winning here isn't supposed to be easy. We're not yet in the playoffs, we know how quickly the tables can turn, so we need to play well against KKR and Sunrisers.”
Most the fans had queued from early morning mainly wanting to see Dhoni. The demand for tickets was so high that it resulted in police having to resort to baton-charge to control the fans. All the fans looked out for Dhoni from the moment they sat on their seats. Very soon they realised that their hero hasn’t even travelled to the stadium due to fever.
Everyone knows the role that Dhoni can play as he is brilliant in assessing the conditions and can mentor anyone to give their best. Even an experienced player like Shane Watson had recently said that it is Dhoni’s faith in him that has helped him overcome a lean patch.
Chennai coach Stephen Fleming, addressing the media after the match talked about Dhoni’s absence, said: “He (Dhoni) is a great leader and a great player. Whenever you take that out of the side it's tough. He's been a constant for us for so many years that you get into the rhythm of having him there. When you take a leader like that out, there are going to be holes to fill.”
Fleming also said that Dhoni’s absence affects the team psychologically. : “It's not that we're not trying to fill it; it's just that the hole is so big. It takes a mammoth effort to lift the team up when you're having our best player unavailable. So, it's a psychological aspect as well.”
So if Dhoni, who is also nursing a back problem and is not fit, it can affect the vigor of the Chennai team which was sailing smoothly towards winning the IPL title.