England all-rounder Sam Curran termed Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni a “genius” after justifying his surprise promotion in the batting order in their Indian Premier League (IPL) opener against Mumbai Indians on Saturday.
After Ravindra Jadeja fell in the 19th over, leaving Chennai needing 29 off 17 deliveries, former India captain Dhoni or fellow right-hander Kedar Jadhav was expected to join Faf du Plessis in the middle.
Dhoni sent Curran (18) instead and the 22-year-old clobbered two sixes and a four in his six-ball cameo before Chennai triumphed by five wickets with four balls to spare.
“To be honest, very surprised I went in but he’s a genius, he obviously thought something,” Curran said at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium. “A great win in the end.”
The left-handed batsman reckoned his promotion was partly because Dhoni wanted a left-right combination and said his aggression against left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya was premeditated.
“That was the over we wanted to target - a six or out approach mentality. Take the risk, and if it comes off it comes off, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
Dhoni’s penchant for springing tactical surprises was most famously illustrated when he asked all-rounder Joginder Sharma to bowl the last over in the final of the 2007 Twenty20 World Cup which India won.
“At some point, I thought we needed to give Jadeja and someone like Sam to go ahead in the batting order and express themselves,” Dhoni said after Saturday’s win.
“They still had two spinners remaining, and we tried to intimidate the bowler a bit, it was just a psychological aspect.
“We know we bat quite deep and wanted them to go after the bowler. If you clear one or two (sixes), then it is easier for the batsmen to follow.”