We know MS Dhoni is genius, but even at 40 his tactical genius was on full display in the first game of the UAE leg of IPL 2021. With Mumbai Indians looking to make a comeback in the game after losing wickets upfront, MS Dhoni needed to tighten the scoring rates, but more importantly get wickets.
With Ishan Kishan and Saurabh Tiwary new to the crease, Dhoni turned to his slower pace bowlers – Shardul Thakur and Dwayne Bravo – and off-spinner Moeen Ali (a good match up to the lefties) and sought to deny them pace to go for their big hits. With the sluggish surface aiding his case, Dhoni had the field in position for a miscued shot to Tiwary, but started off with a more conventional field to Kishan.
Just before the strategic time out happened, Kishan faced his last delivery from a pacer and the cover region had the fielder at the edge of the circle as the image below shows.
When Dwayne Bravo came in to bowl after the strategic time-out at the end of the 9th over, Dhoni had already planned the perfect way to entice Kishan.
A fielder was brought up to short cover to cover for the lack of pace on the pitch with the idea of Kishan’s driving floating up in the air for the fielder to take a catch.
Bravo bowled to plan and had Kishan going for a full-fledged drive outside off-stump. With the pace off the ball and the pitch further slowing it up, Kishan could only hit the ball straight to Suresh Raina at short cover two balls since the fielder was placed there exactly for this shot.
Tactical genius from MS Dhoni, but are we even surprised?
Watch the Kishan dismissal plotted to perfection by Dhoni here:
Mumbai, which had a strong grip on the game early with the ball when they had CSK at 24/4 at the end of the powerplay, let the game wander and Ruturaj Gaikwad helped CSK to 156 in their quota of overs. Mumbai struggled in the run-chase with Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya absent and ambled along until Dhoni started pulling off his tricks and put CSK in the driving seat.