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MS Dhoni’s knock for Rising Pune Supergiant a tribute to his calm approach: Stephen Fleming

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s stunning, match-winning half-century for Rising Pune Supergiant against Sunrisers Hyderabad showed his ability to shut out all criticisms and questions, says RPS coach Stephen Fleming.

ipl 2017 Updated: Apr 23, 2017 20:01 IST
MS Dhoni,Indian Premier League 2017,Rising Pune Supergiant
MS Dhoni hit an unbeaten 34-ball 61 to guide Rising Pune Supergiant to a six-wicket win against Sunrisers Hyderabad during the 2017 Indian Premier League at the MCA Stadium in Pune on Saturday. (BCCI)

There are few people who know Mahendra Singh Dhoni the Twenty20 cricketer now with Rising Pune Supergiant better than Stephen Fleming.

The former New Zealand captain has seen him first-hand for almost the entire length of the Indian Premier League. The two had established a successful team at the Chennai Super Kings as captain and coach, before being signed together by Rising Pune Supergiant.

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The two though have yet to replicate the same success for Pune Supergiant as they did with Chennai Super Kings. Going by the lofty standards he set in the IPL, MS Dhoni has had limited success in his new franchise and Fleming admitted the big man felt it going into Saturday’s game against defending champions Hyderabad Sunrisers at Pune.

MS Dhoni, India’s most successful captain, though silenced some of his detractors with a match-winning, unbeaten 61 off 34 balls, the man renowned for his finishing skills sealing victory with a last-ball boundary.

Mr Cool was anxious

“Yes,” nodded Fleming to a question whether Dhoni was getting a bit anxious that he was not getting the big runs before the Sunrisers game.

Read more | Virat Kohli hails MS Dhoni’s ‘champion knock’ for Rising Pune Supergiant

“He was determined. He has been training a lot. He has certainly hit a lot of balls and it was all building up to an innings of substance. He desperately wants us to do well this year. After last year, we all felt we needed more contribution from everybody. He in particular was the one to put his hand up. So, he has wanted to win a game. Steve Smith as well has been wanting to win a game and our big players want to contribute and one of our biggest did that yesterday, which was great,” said Fleming on the eve of the game against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium.

Zooming expectations

With his stock rising in international cricket with each year since he led India to the ICC World T20 Cup in 2007, the level of expectations has also increased on Dhoni. Hence, when he was not getting the runs this year after being replaced by Smith as captain of the Supergiant team, questions about his form had increased.

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Fleming said Dhoni has a way of staying unaffected by outside noise. “He has never listened or been affected by all the off-field talk. In some ways he isolates himself away from that, which is a good thing, especially in India with the pressure and the amount of talk there is. But still, the calmness he shows in such situations is one of his greatest assets. And yesterday (Saturday), it was to the fore.

No total too much

“We thought that it was probably late and we had not got too much of the total to leave us with a good chase in the end, but he proved it with the hitting and batting skills and the power that players have these days that no score is impossible,” said Fleming.

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“It was vintage (Dhoni), wasn’t it? It was a performance that was befitting of a man who has the reputation of being a great finisher. There has been a discussion around when was the last time he has played an innings like that. You got to remember playing an innings like that we had got a bit blasé about how special they were. But yesterday he proved again that when he is in the mood and has got the sight or the feel for the bowling, he is still the most destructive closer.”

First Published: Apr 23, 2017 20:01 IST