Dhoni heaps praise on fabulous Faf after leading CSK to opening IPL win

Faf du Plessis lead the Chennai Super Kings to an opening win in the 2020 IPL, against Mumbai Indians. Picture: EPA

Once labelled “The Dads Army” by the media, Chennai have a number of players over the age of 35, including Dhoni, Australia’s Shane Watson, du Plessis and South African Imran Tahir.

Chennai Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has heaped praise on the experienced players in his side after they toppled defending champions Mumbai Indians in the opening match of the Indian Premier League.

South African veteran Faf du Plessis smashed an unbeaten 58 to guide Chennai to a five-wicket win, chasing Mumbai’s 162 in Abu Dhabi as glitzy Twenty20 tournament started months late because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Once labelled “The Dads Army” by the media, Chennai have a number of players over the age of 35, including Dhoni, Australia’s Shane Watson, du Plessis and South African Imran Tahir.

But Dhoni said that kind of experience would always be an asset to any team, with the perfect side needing the “right mix of youngsters and the experienced players”.

“What really helps youngsters in (the) IPL is the fact senior cricketers (come) from… different countries and they have their own experience,” said Dhoni, who retired from international cricket last month.

“So that way we are blessed to have the senior cricketers who are part of the team.”

Dhoni added that players with more than 300 one-day internationals under their belt have built up the kind of experience that is difficult to accumulate.

“You need a number of years to play those,” said the Indian star.

“And now with three ODIs a series, 300 ODIs is a dream for anybody to play.”

Du Plessis smashed six boundaries in his 44-ball stay including a 115-run partnership with 34-year-old Ambati Rayudu, who hit 71, to help the three-time IPL winners chase the target with four balls to spare.

England’s Sam Curran smashed 18 off six balls after the 22-year-old all-rounder was sent ahead of Dhoni in a move that surprised many.

But Curran’s hitting affirmed Dhoni’s faith in him.

“That’s one thing we haven’t done,” Dhoni said, referring to experimenting with the batting order.

“At some point… we need to give (Ravindra) Jadeja and somebody like Sam to express themselves.”

The 53-day IPL is being held in the United Arab Emirates this year because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in India, which has the second-highest number of known infections in the world.

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