IPL 2024: Fleming responds to Harbhajan’s criticism of Dhoni batting at No. 9 for CSK

May 10, 2024

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MS Dhoni‘s recent batting position at No. 9 for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) has sparked debate among fans and pundits alike. While some, like former cricketer Harbhajan Singh, believe Dhoni’s late arrival hinders the team, CSK coach Stephen Fleming offers a different perspective.

Stephen Fleming’s take on MS Dhoni’s batting position

Fleming insisted Dhoni is not battling a fresh injury, despite speculation. However, he acknowledges a “little bit of muscle injury” earlier in the season. To avoid aggravating it and potentially losing Dhoni for longer stretches, CSK has adopted a workload management strategy. This involves Dhoni coming late at the crease, focusing on hitting big shots and providing exceptional wicket-keeping skills.

“We’re trying to find that balance where he can have an impact on the match by just hitting sixes and fours,” said  Fleming as quoted by Cricbuzz. He emphasized the value Dhoni brings even at No. 9, highlighting his ability to “keep as well as some of the best in the competition.”

Fleming responds to Harbhajan’s criticism

Fleming also directly addressed the criticism from Harbhajan, who suggested CSK to include an extra bowler instead of Dhoni batting so low. Fleming argued that Dhoni’s presence on the field, even for a short batting stint, offers crucial leadership and tactical advice to the new captain, Ruturaj Gaikwad.

“We’ve said earlier on that when he recovered from knee surgery last year, which was quite debilitating for him, there was going to be a certain workload this year that he could manage. Now, one of our challenges is that we’ve got a good backup keeper, but he’s no MS Dhoni and we want to keep MS Dhoni on the field, doing what he does best, which is the last two, three overs, four overs with the bat and his keeping and his ability to share tactical advice with the new captain is really important. So we’re valuing some other things,” added Fleming.

Dhoni’s Fitness

Fleming firmly denied limitations in Dhoni’s running ability. The New Zealand veteran clarified, “Yeah, he can run. 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 in his hands and his hand-eye [coordination] and speed is as good as any. So no problem with that.”

This suggests Dhoni remains fit for his designated role behind the stumps and during short batting bursts.


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