Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper MS Dhoni lauded Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) for putting up a stellar performance in the second half of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021. Dhoni went to the extent of stating that KKR deserved to win the title.
CSK thumped KKR by 27 runs in the IPL 2021 final in Dubai on Friday. Sent into bat after losing the toss, Chennai posted an impressive 192 for 3 on the board. Veteran opener Faf du Plessis led the way with a superb 86 off 59 balls. Ruturaj Gaikwad (32), Robin Uthappa (31) and Moeen (37 not out) also come up with valuable contributions. For KKR, Sunil Narine (2 for 26) was the only bowler to make an impact.
When KKR batted, openers Shubman Gill (51) and Venkatesh Iyer (50) featured in a 91-run opening stand. However, once the pair was separated things started falling apart from KKR rather swiftly. Shardul Thakur (3/38), Josh Hazlewood (2/29) and Ravindra Jadeja (2/37) combined to restrict Kolkata to 165 for 9.
Speaking at the post-match presentation, Dhoni hailed KKR’s fightback. He said, “Before I start talking about CSK, it's important I talk about KKR. For the position they were in after the first phase, it is very difficult to come back and do what they have done. If any team deserved to win the IPL this year, I feel it was KKR. I think the break helped them.”
KKR had won only two of their seven games in the first half. Yet, they recovered to reach the final.
Speaking of his own team’s performance, Dhoni said that they shuffled their players around a bit and kept finding match-winners on a consistent basis. The CSK skipper added, “Coming to CSK we shuffled a few players, we used them in different ways. Important was to take the responsibility. I felt we had match-winners game after game. People who were in form they ensured they were scoring throughout the tournament and others were chipping in.”
2021 was CSK’s ninth IPL final. Asked to reflect on the various summit clash over the years, Dhoni said that every final is special. He added, “Yes we are most consistent team looking at the stats but we have also lost finals. Not letting the opposition in is something we consciously wanted to improve. I hope CSK in the coming years will be known for that.”
On the talk in the dressing room before the IPL 2021 final, Dhoni revealed that there wasn’t much chat since players were well aware of their roles. The captain cool explained, “We don't really talk a lot. It's more one on one. Our practice sessions are more like a meeting session also. People are more open that way. The moment you talk in a team room there is a bit of pressure. You can't deliver without a good team. We also have great individuals as well.”
CSK had previously won the IPL in 2018, returning to the league after a two-year suspension.
--By A Cricket Correspondent