IPL 2021: 'A lot was at stake, means a lot' - Dhoni after CSK qualify for playoffs
- CSK defeated SRH by 7 wickets on Thursday
- CSK have qualified for playoffs, while SRH’s race has ended
- Table-toppers CSK now have 18 points from 11 matches
MS Dhoni expressed how delighted he was after Chennai Super Kings (CSK) became the first team to qualify for the playoffs in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 on Thursday.
Last season, the three-time champions had failed to go past the group stage and Dhoni had pledged to come back stronger in 2021.
CSK defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) by six wickets in Sharjah on Thursday. With the win, CSK now have 18 points, while bottom-placed SRH have become the first team to end their race to the playoffs.
"It means a lot, because the last time, we said we wanted to come back strong. We are known for that and there was a lot at stake. You won't always win games and a lot didn't go our way last time, and it's important not to make excuses and we have done that this year. The boys did well to keep the momentum going, and they've taken responsibilities to keep all departments of the game in balance so the players and the support staff get the credit," Dhoni, who sealed CSK's victory with his signature six, said at the post-match presentation at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
The CSK skipper alsp acknowledged the constant support from their fans, saying he just glad that his side has "repaid their faith."
"The bounce of the wicket was different - instead of knee height, it was shin height, and once the batsmen figured out that they have to hit straight, they succeeded. The bowlers tried to swing it up front and got hit straight when they pitched it up too much, but then adjusted very well. I told the bowlers that they needed to exploit the conditions in today's game. If the odd ball stopped early on, it started coming onto the bat later. Not much needs to be said of the fans, who have supported us through thick and thin and I'm glad we have repaid their faith," added Dhoni.
After being asked to bat first, SRH managed to post only 134 runs on the board in 20 overs. Opening batsman Wriddhiman Saha top scored for the Orange Army with 44 off 46 balls. For CSK, pacers Josh Hazlewood and Dwayne Bravo did well with the ball. They shared five wickets between them, with Hazlewood bagging 3 for 24 and Bravo 2 for 17.
In reply to SRH's 134 for 7, CSK openers Faf du Plessis and Ruturaj Gaikwad once again gave a flying start to their side. They put up 75 runs for the opening wicket. While du Plessis scored a 36-ball 41, Gaikwad scored 45 off 38. No. 3 batsman Moeen Ali scored a run-a-ball 17 before Ambati Rayudu and Dhoni's unbeaten stand of 31 runs sealed the game for CSK.
"It was very humid tonight, bad execution (on his dismissal) and not enough gloves (to counter the sweat), need to bring in more next game. I did work before the tournament to make sure I could run and I love doing it. Missed the game for a while with concussion. I don't want to miss the catches, love doing the donkey work of running from long-on to long-off. Our batting line-up is long, we have guys coming in and batting aggressively all the time, so even if one takes wickets, they'll be batters coming out to score runs. Moeen has been a good addition as a second spinner. The balance I think is very good, that's one reason for us doing well this season," South Africa's du Plessis said after CSK's win on Thursday.