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‘So, it’s a delicate balance’ – Stephen Fleming on significance of managing MS Dhoni’s workload during IPL 2024

MS Dhoni. (Source -IPL/BCCI)

A considerable uproar ensued when the esteemed MS Dhoni took to the crease at an unexpected No. 9 position during the Chennai Super Kings’ recent encounter, their 11th match of IPL 2024, against the Punjab Kings at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, Dharamsala. His dismissal of Harshal Patel’s delivery didn’t trouble the CSK supporters and his loyal fans much. Their apprehension, however, originated from his batting order position at No. 9, especially considering his sensational form, having scored 110 runs in a mere 49 balls at a phenomenal strike rate of 224.48.

Former New Zealander and CSK player, the current head coach of CSK, Stephen Fleming, broke his silence on all the conjecture that was floating around regarding the CSK icon in a pre-game press conference in Ahmedabad. Fleming underscored that the choice was prompted by the need to administer Dhoni’s task allocation effectively. He further went on to refer to Dhoni’s role as being an out-and-out finisher, having a far-reaching influence on the match with the gloves as well.

“We’re managing his workload. It’s risky and we’ve seen that early on in the season with a little bit of muscle injury, that if he bats too long, we run the risk of losing him. So, we’re trying to find that balance where he can have an impact on the match by just hitting sixes and fours, which he’s done pretty well and kept as well as some of the best in the competition, if not the best in the competition,” remarked Fleming at a pre-game press conference.

Also Read: Chennai Super Kings’ IPL records and stats at Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad

However, Fleming also made one thing clear Dhoni batting at the positions he has and will move forward, was and will be a well-thought-out and prudent decision which the team management along with him will take keeping the best interests of the team in mind. He conveyed their desire to leverage every ounce of Dhoni’s expertise for the franchise while being mindful not to push him beyond a point of no return. 

“So, don’t underestimate his influence on the team just because he comes in at number nine. There’s a timing aspect, but we’re very wary of what he can give us and we will max that out, but we don’t want to max it out where we lose him. So, it’s a delicate balance,” added the head coach of CSK.

It’s a specific role that we’re using him for: Fleming on Dhoni

Having to charge for tough runs was something Fleming and the team management would say was a big no-no for Dhoni, however, wicketkeeping was something that was wisely regulated by Dhoni, considering his fuel-efficient activity as well as his hand-eye coordination and the rate of his reflexes being as sharp as any other keeper out there.

Also Read: ‘I challenge myself to be as good as Jasprit Bumrah’ – Harshal Patel speaks on his ‘USP’ and ambitions ahead of PBKS vs RCB

 “He’s not going to bat for a long period of time, so finding that point, keeping is fine. He’s very economical with his movement, so he can keep with his hands, and his hand-eye [coordination] and speed is as good as any. So, no problem with that. We’re just guarding against him, batting for five or six overs, having to sprint every couple of balls. It’s a specific role that we’re using him for,” concluded Fleming.

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