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IPL 2020: MS Dhoni the batsman may take back seat to let Dhoni the captain rule, says Sanjay Manjrekar

NEW DELHI: Chennai Super Kings (CSK) captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was a mere spectator as a batsman in his team’s win in the opening fixture of this Indian Premier League (IPL) season. While Dhoni was there when Faf du Plessis struck the winning runs against Mumbai Indians on Saturday, the skipper couldn’t open his account while remaining not out. But the wily old captain didn’t miss any trick while marshalling his troops on the field, and former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar believes that could be the order of the season for CSK. “It was amazing to see Chennai win the first game, a team that thrives on turning pitches put up a brilliant winning performance against Mumbai in the opening act,” Manjrekar wrote in his column for The Times of India on Tuesday. CSK defeated Mumbai by five wickets in opening match of IPL-13, which is being played in the UAE because of the raging coronavirus pandemic in India. “I watched Dhoni as captain in that first game where Chennai lost five wickets and Dhoni ended up zero not out after facing just two balls. While more evidence is certainly needed, people should not be surprised if they see Dhoni the batsman take a back seat to allow Dhoni the captain to guide the team’s fortunes,” Manjrekar opined. Manjrekar went on to point out the examples which indicate that Dhoni remains at his best when it comes to taking decisions as a captain. “Picking Sam Curran, (Lungi) Ngidi in the eleven and then promoting Curran and (Ravindra) Jadeja up the order to make a winning difference are all early signs of this. With a win against Mumbai, who have been their nemesis, Chennai start as clear favourites against Rajasthan,” Manjrekar added. CSK take on Rajasthan Royals in their second match on Tuesday. Sharing his thoughts ahead of the fourth match of the season, Manjrekar indicated that Rajasthan will heavily rely on their high-profile foreign recruits for success in this season. “Rajasthan is an interesting team, but is it a potential champion team? Most would say no, but there have been a few good developments for them in recent times. Jos Buttler, for example, on sheer form and quality of stroke-play, is one of the world’s best T20 batsmen today. He will miss today’s (Tuesday) game due to quarantine rules, but he will play a crucial role in the tournament,” the former batsman added. IPL 2020: FULL LEAGUE-STAGE SCHEDULE”Steve Smith is also an improved T20 player than last year. (Jofra) Archer has only got better as a fast bowler, plus with no Rahane, who tended to hold them back in the first few crucial overs, expect a whirlwind start with the bat. Sure, they lack a bit of depth in batting but Steve Smith kind of batsmen have made great impact so far.” He also believed that Smith will be the cog around which the rest of Rajasthan batting will have to revolve. “Steve Smith must try and be the glue through their batting innings for Rajasthan to compete against stronger teams,” said Manjrekar. Manjrekar went on to add that the tracks being used at the three UAE venues – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah – will be overworked and thus may behave differently because of the wear and tear over the course of the tournament. “There is clear indication from the first few games that this tournament will be one of two halves. We are currently watching the first half where seamers are having some fun and the ball isn’t turning too much. Curators are extremely concerned about the traffic that’s going to be there on the pitches of the three venues in the UAE over the next few weeks. “In India, IPL is played across a dozen venues, so you can imagine the workload on these pitches; hence, keeping a grass cover at the start is the obvious thing to do to ensure that the pitches don’t ‘age’ quickly,” Manjrekar concluded.
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