MS Dhoni's blistering 40 off 26 balls made all the difference for Rising Pune Supergiant in their IPL 2017 Qualifier 1 victory over Mumbai Indians.
MS Dhoni was batting on 14 off 17 balls with Rising Pune Supergiant stuttering to 121/3 after 18 overs against Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier of IPL 2017.
RPS were in a spot of bother at that stage. They were in danger of a below-par score against the two-time champions, who boasted of some dangerous batsmen in their ranks.
The 'MS Dhoni finishing manual' was challenged several times during the season but it all fell together nicely for the Ranchi marauder as Pune played their most crucial IPL game in their two-year history.
Jasprit Bumrah and Mitchell McClenaghan messed up their lengths on four occasions and Dhoni made them pay each time.
Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke has long been a firm believer in MS Dhoni and he underlines the difference Dhoni's assault made to the first playoff this season.
"That changed the game. The fact that Pune managed to get over the 160-run mark, the confidence in the change room was different. Pune took that momentum walking in to the field. The pitch was such that it took batsmen some time to get in and MS did take some time but he knew he could change it in the end," Clarke told India Today.
Clarke said Dhoni's true value has been lost in the extreme focus around his batting skills.
"What has gone unnoticed is his wicketkeeping. That's his primary job and he has been the best in the competition.
"Secondly, he is a batsman and you want him to bat well because you know how good he is and on Tuesday night he did that.
"The other thing about great players which MS does is to stand up when the team needs you the most. He is one of the few who stands up on big occasions consistently. Tuesday night was another example," he said.
Clarke also backed Dhoni to come good in the Champions Trophy in England next month. "I think he is still as good as he has been. I have said this through the IPL and will continue to say that through the Champions Trophy, India have made a smart decision in picking him for the tournament.
"He deserves to be there. He is the best wicketkeeper in the country. His batting is still as good as it always was. He has showed form in patches in the IPL and I have no doubt he will show us (what he can do) in Champions Trophy," he said.
Clarke reckoned Kohli should get Dhoni to bat consistently at No.5 so he could have the kind of impact Andrew Symonds did for Australia.
"I am really interested to see where Virat bats him in the Champions Trophy. I would bat him at No.4 in T20 cricket and 5 in ODIs like Australia did with Andrew Symonds. His experience, his skill will play a huge role if India are to win the trophy," he said.
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