Former India captain MS Dhoni is known for trying innovative things in cricket. His ability to think differently helped him to win so many battles against various sides. Therefore, on many occasions, Dhoni came up with completely new tactics to the enthralling game. For instance, MSD started the trend of opening the T20 innings with a spinner which later was followed by every other skipper.
The first glimpse of such strategy was seen in the early seasons of Indian Premier League (IPL) when Dhoni brought Ravichandran Ashwin in powerplays. It really helped the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), as this technique was entirely new for other teams. Even in the Champions League T20 tournament, Ashwin exhibited his classy bowling.
There is no doubt that Ashwin with his highly skillful bowling, has done justice to Dhoni’s decision many times. However, there was an event when Ashwin had let down Dhoni. During a candid chat with veteran commentator Harsha Bhogle on Cricbuzz, the off-spinner rolled back to 2010 when he bowled a terrible over in the Champions League held in South Africa.
It was a close game between Victoria Bushrangers and CSK during the group stages. While chasing a score set by Chennai, Victoria reached the same score, and the match was decided by a super over.
Then Dhoni, instead of going with seamers, picked Ashwin to bowl the super over. Usually, a captain is reluctant to give a super over to a spinner, but Dhoni was not like others. Ashwin said Dhoni didn’t even think for a minute and quickly gave the ball to the former to complete the super over.
“We were standing in a huddle, Fleming just ran, there was a quick meet up. As they were all talking, I just put my hand up and said I want to bowl the Super Over. There was Doug Bollinger, there was Murali, but nobody volunteered for that. For me, it felt like an opportunity to win a game for the team. He (MSD) didn’t even think, gave the ball to me, and went off,” Ashwin told Harsha.
However, it was one of the worst over Ashwin has ever bowled in his career. The Chennai-born spinner ended up conceding 23 runs. Ashwin said that he was really disappointed with his performance.
“I bowled that over, I succumbed to pressure, David Hussey hit me for a six and then I started chasing the over, I started bowling quicker and quicker. I bowled the yorkers and didn’t execute them. Now if I think back, I just tell myself – what the hell have you done? You wanted to bowl a Super Over; the man gave you a Super Over, CSK is a team that you wanted to be a part of, you wanted to be a performer, and you have pushed your team out of the tournament now,” added Ashwin.
Even though CSK had a poor game, they eventually ended up winning the tournament. Ashwin performed outstandingly well in the season and became the highest wicket-taker in that edition. He was also rewarded with the ‘Player of the Tournament’ award.