'Everyone knows that when MS comes to bat…': Former India batter reveals how Gautam Gambhir outsmarted Dhoni in IPL

Published on Nov 01, 2022 03:04 PM IST

While Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni were teammates for long, they were often pitted against each other in the IPL every time Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings did battle.

MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir were often pitted against each other in the IPL(Getty Images)
MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir were often pitted against each other in the IPL(Getty Images)
By, New Delhi

MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir – the two names that played a pivotal role in India winning the 2011 World Cup. Both players, whose bat remained silent almost for the entirety of the tournament, saved their best for the last as Dhoni's unbeaten 91 and a stunning knock of 94 helped India chase down 275 to win the World Cup final in front of a packed Wankhede Stadium.

Even when CSK were banned and Dhoni represented the now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiant, their rivalry continues. It reached a new high when Gambhir would employ a unique Test-match like field for Dhoni whenever he would come to bat. Whenever Dhoni took guard against KKR, Gambhir would bring on his top spinners and had close-in fielders lining up against Dhoni. And to KKR's delight, the ploy even worked, with Dhoni falling to the tactic cheaply.

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Robin Uthappa, the former India batter, who was with KKR when Gambhir pulled an ace up his sleeve against Dhoni, revealed the thought process that went into Gambhir's planning. Uthappa was keeping wicket during the season and got a first-hand view of how Gambhir would try and outwit Dhoni.

"That question is better directed to Gautam Gambhir than me. I was just a wicketkeeper at that point in time. But I think (it was done) just to put that extra pressure on him. Initially when he comes in to bat, just to force him to play a big shot. It was an in-and-out kind of a field where you had a lot of fielders very close to the bat," Uthappa said while speaking to ESPNCricinfo.

As the years progressed, Dhoni became slightly vulnerable against spinners, more so against a mystery spinner like Sunil Narine. In IPL 2015 and 2016, Gambhir would have two slips, one and two close-in short leg fielders against Dhoni, willing to take the gamble of leaving the entire outfield open. If not Narine, it was Piyush Chawla, whom Gambhir would unleash against Dhoni and would taste success more often than not.

"Piyush Chawla was bowling. He is one of the best leg-spinners to have played the IPL and records state as much. He can be a very deceptive bowler. And everyone knows that when MS comes in to bat, he can be a little tentative and Gautam wanted to take advantage of the fact," added Uthappa.

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