CSK coach Stephen Fleming breaks his silence on MS Dhoni’s slow batting

Delhi Capitals hung in to beat Chennai Super Kings by three wickets in a contest between the Indian Premier League’s No. 1 and 2 teams on Monday.

No. 2 Delhi moved above Chennai on the table with a round to go in the group stage. Both teams have already qualified for the playoffs but a top-two place offers a shorter route to the Oct. 15 final.

Shimron Hetmyer, dropped on 12 in Delhi’s chase, went on to make an unbeaten 28 off 18 balls to give his side a winning 139-7 with two balls to spare.

Chennai struggled to 136-5 after Delhi skipper Rishabh Pant won the toss on his 24th birthday and opted to field first.

“Not a bad birthday present,” Pant said.

Shardul Thakur’s (2-13) twin strikes in the 15th over brought Chennai back into the game when the fast bowler clean bowled Ravichandran Ashwin and then-top-scorer Shikhar Dhawan (39) was brilliantly snapped in the covers by Moeen Ali.

Dhawan, one of three batsmen to score more than 500 runs this season, hit three fours and two sixes before chipping a catch to Ali.

Chennai wasted a good opportunity to sneak out a win when Delhi was still 22 runs behind. However, substitute fielder Krishnappa Gowtham missed a dolly catch of Hetmyer at long on when the ball burst through his hands and crossed the boundary for four.

Earlier, Axar Patel (2-18) and Ashwin (1-20) tied down Chennai despite Ambati Rayudu scoring a 43-ball knock of 54.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni couldn’t score a boundary in making 18 runs off 27 balls before edging to Pant behind the wickets in the last over.

“It’s a two-paced wicket, some balls come to you and some don’t,” Dhoni said. “It’s not a placid wicket where you can play your shots … it was a very good effort (by the bowlers), but it was important not to give away too many in the first six overs.”

Chennai Super Kings’ head coach Stephen Fleming reckoned that the pitch in Dubai was not easy for batting. He defended MS Dhoni’s slow batting.

“Well, he [Dhoni] wasn’t the only one who struggled. It was a difficult day for strokeplay. When 137 [136] is almost enough, I think it was a tough wicket to score big on in terms of the big shots. So, both teams struggled with that towards the end of the innings.

“Sometimes you set your sights too high, [want] too many, and probably we were only 10-15 runs short of having a match-winning score,” Fleming said after the match.