IPL 2021: Dhoni's innings left CSK's dressing room emotional, says Stephen Fleming
- Dhoni scored 18 off 6 balls to help CSK seal the game on Sunday
- CSK defeated DC by 4 wickets in the Qualifier 1 of IPL 2021
- Dhoni-led CSK have made it to their ninth IPL final
MS Dhoni's match-winning innings against Delhi Capitals (DC) in the Qualifier 1 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 left the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) dressing room emotional, head coach Stephen Fleming said on Sunday.
Chasing 173 in Dubai, CSK needed 13 runs off the final over. The dismissal of Moeen Ali brought Dhoni at the strike, who struck three boundaries to seal the game for CSK.
CSK completed the chase with two balls and four wickets to spare to qualify for the final of IPL 2021. Dhoni made his teammates and fans across the globe nostalgic as he remained unbeaten on 18 off 6 and finished off the match for CSK.
"It was emotionally great for us. We wish him (well) every time he goes out, we know the pressure that he is under and the expectations that are on him every time he goes out and once again he came up trumps for us. It was emotional in the changing room, that's very important. But also, the captain had an opportunity to do that for us," said Fleming in the post-match press conference.
The CSK coach also revealed that he had a lot of conversations with the skipper before the latter went out to bat at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.
"There was a lot of chat. I think we spoke more in these 20 overs than we have for a long time; just a lot of technical discussions, maneuvering how to work out how it was going to unfold. I'll tell you what, when the captain gets that look in his eyes and says that he'll go, it's been well documented that he has done that, and today was one of those. So, I ain't holding him back and we saw the result of that," added Fleming.
The CSK head coach also hailed Robin Uthappa, who replaced the struggling Suresh Raina and came out to bat at No. 3. After losing Faf du Plessis in the first over, Uthappa and Ruturaj Gaikwad brought CSK's chase back on the track. The two put up 100 runs for the second wicket as they scored a half-century each.
While Uthappa scored 63 off 44 balls, Gaikwad was the eventual Player of the Match for his knock of 70 off 50 balls. Meanwhile, Gaikwad also became only the second batsman to score 600 or more runs this season after Punjab Kings (PBKS) captain KL Rahul.
"We are proud of every performance that a player puts up to help win a game but this one was very special. He [Uthappa] has had a long time out and he has been training hard and the opportunity came up. When opportunities are given, we tend to stick with players a bit longer than the rest and he repaid that in bucketloads. Right from the first ball his intent was good and without doubt, that partnership set the game up for us," Fleming said of Uthappa.
Uthappa: Happy to contribute
Meanwhile, Uthappa said that he is glad to have been able to contribute at a crucial time for CSK before adding that he feels secure with the current CSK bunch.
"I'm happy that I was able to contribute. Today is my son's birthday and this one's for him. When I went out to bat we knew we needed a good start, so I just tried to react to the ball and play according to the merit," Uthappa said after CSK's four-wicket win on Sunday.
On being asked about his injury, Uthappa said," Hopefully it's nothing serious, seems like it's a little bit of a niggle and we have got 4 days to go so I should be good."
"There were days when there were doubts, to be honest, when you don't get to play these doubts tend to creep in and I try to make sure that I shut myself from the outside world, I just stuck to that and I just felt that at some point I will be able to contribute to the team in a way that's really meaningful and I'm really grateful for God that I have been able to do that today.
I always maintain that this has been one of the most secure franchises going around and everyone feels secure within the group and I think that only makes a player only give that much more to the franchise. After KKR, when Gauti was the captain I really enjoyed myself there and felt really secure in that group but after that, this is the most secure I've felt while playing cricket in a while. It's going to be interesting and exciting and really looking forward to it. I just like to take the opportunity to say everyone in the world out there - let's be kind, the world needs it," added Uthappa, who has played only three matches in the IPL 2021.