Mahendra Singh Dhoni rolled back the years with an unbeaten 38-ball 50 but his team Chennai Super Kings went down to Kolkata Knight Riders by six wickets in the IPL opener on Saturday.
The 40-year-old Dhoni, who passed on the captaincy to Ravindra Jadeja on Thursday, lifted holders Chennai from a precarious 61-5 to post 131-5 after being put into bat in Mumbai, reports AFP.
Kolkata reached their target in 18.3 overs with new skipper Shreyas Iyer unbeaten on 20 at the start of the Indian Premier League. Ajinkya Rahane top-scored with 44.
“There’s always tension when MS Dhoni is batting, especially in the last three overs when the dew is coming,” Iyer, who succeeded England’s Eoin Morgan as the team’s captain said. “We just have to carry the momentum from here.”
Chennai fast bowler Dwayne Bravo claimed three wickets to equal veteran Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga as the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 170 scalps.
Dhoni, a veteran wicketkeeper-batter, took his time to get going in season 15 of the Twenty20 tournament but put on an unbeaten stand of 70 with the left-handed Jadeja, who made 26, and the pair got 47 off the last three overs.
Dhoni, who led Chennai to their fourth IPL title in the Covid-hit Twenty20 tournament completed in the United Arab Emirates last year, smashed seven fours and one six to bring alive the limited crowd at the Wankhede Stadium.
It was Dhoni’s first half-century since April 2019 when he smashed 84, although in a losing cause against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“Certainly MS getting runs in the tournament is a positive, but it was a pretty rusty performance (by the team),” Chennai coach Stephen Fleming told reporters.
Fleming revealed he had discussed the captaincy change with Dhoni last season and admitted the team will go through a “transition period”.
The cash-rich tournament has been expanded to 10 teams and 74 matches but league games would be restricted to four venues in Mumbai and Pune.
Delhi Capitals take on five-time winners Mumbai Indians in the first match on Sunday while Punjab Kings meet Bangalore in the evening game.