The 36-year old was key to CSK’s title-winning campaign this year, scoring 455 runs in 16 games.
“I was sure in my mind that I wanted to bat up the order, because with age, me batting down the order was like quicksand,” Dhoni said at an event in Mumbai.
“I wanted to make sure that I wanted to take the responsibility of winning the game, but I was coming so [far] down the order that I was not giving time to myself.
“So, it was more like quicksand: the more I flutter, the deeper I would go. So, I said that I want to make a team where we bat deep, that gives me a chance to bat up the order, and to me up the order doesn’t mean I want to bat at three, four or five; it’s the number of overs [left in the innings].”
Dhoni also emphasised on why he wanted to bat higher and how CSK batting deep helped him to be aggressive in the middle.
“I said that I want to bat up, so when I go into bat, I would like to bat aggressive, so that even if I get out, it gives others a chance to reinvent themselves about finishing the game, what they need to do, if they are under pressure and all of that,” he said.
“Fortunately, we did not use our batting order to the full extent in the whole of IPL because [Shane] Watson, [Ambati] Rayudu, [Suresh] Raina, me, [Dwayne] Bravo – we all kept scoring runs and that really helped us.”
“But my planning, right from the start, was to make a team which bats deep, where everybody should be able to bat, and that gives me an opportunity to go out there and express myself, ” he added.
The 2014 runners-up began the 2018 season winning five of their first six matches but faltered in the latter stages to finish second bottom in the league stage.
But Rahul, who finished as the competition’s third highest scorer with 659 runs, said former Indian batsman Sehwag played a key role for all the players.
“I did go up to Sehwag and spoke to him at different times. He kept his game very simple and that’s his advice to all the players to go out, trust your gut feeling and enjoy the game with a smile on our face,” he was quoted as saying in the Indian press.
“That’s the kind of freedom he has given to everybody, not just me, be it batsmen or bowlers.”
“And this is the brand of cricket we want to play as a team, not always keeping in mind the result. We want to be fearless and aggressive. In a tournament like the IPL, sometimes it will work and at other times it won’t. But we have to keep going,” the right-hand batsman added.
After the conclusion of an enthralling and highly engrossing IPL, we pick the Sport360 Team of the Season.
KL RAHUL (KXIP)
M:14, Runs: 659, 50s: 6, SR 158.41
Easily the best opener of this edition. Once he launched himself with a blazing 14-ball 50 in his team’s first match against Delhi Daredevils, there was no looking back.
A stylish batsman, Rahul was equally adept at playing pace and spin.
AMBATI RAYUDU (CSK)
M: 16, Runs 602, 100s: 1, SR: 149.75
The 33-year-old was a revelation as an opener. All along Rayudu has played as a middle-order batsman but he revelled in his new role resulting in his most productive IPL. The biggest strength of Rayudu is that he can bat at any position.
KANE WILLIAMSON (SRH)
M: 17, Runs: 735, 50s: 8, SR: 142.44
The Kiwi captain stamped his class by emerging as the top run-getter. Not many can pace their innings as Williamson does. He is another batsman who has a range of strokes and can bat long once he gets set.
RISHABH PANT (DD)
M: 14, Runs: 684, 100s: 1, SR: 173.60
Having made a mark in the domestic circuit with his daring batsmanship, the 20-year-old stole the show in his third IPL smashing the most number of fours (68) and sixes (37). With the left-hander at the crease a high scoring rate was assured.
WK AND CAPTAIN
MS DHONI (CSK)
M: 16, Runs 455, 50s: 3, C: 11, Stumps: 3
For the umpteenth time, Dhoni proved that in limited-overs cricket few can match him in leadership and finishing skills. The 36-year-old created havoc in rival camps with his batsmanship by smashing 30 sixes, the most he has hit in any IPL.
KRUNAL PANDYA (MI)
M:14, Runs: 228, SR: 145.22; W: 12, Econ: 7.07
An impact player who is quite good at batting, bowling and in the field. The left-hander can pull out the big shots with ease and is quite miserly with his left-arm spin. Tends to fly under the radar as compared to his flamboyant brother Hardik. Surprising that he is yet to play for India.
ANDRE RUSSELL (KKR)
M: 16, Runs 316, 50s: 1, SR 184.79; W: 13, Econ: 9.38
When the burly Jamaican gets going, bowlers beg for mercy as his ability to smash sixes is nothing short of breathtaking. He was at it again, smashing 31 sixes for the Knight Riders this season. His pace bowling was another plus, even though an injured hamstring was a concern.
SUNIL NARINE (KKR)
M: 16, Runs 357, SR: 189.89; W: 17, Econ: 7.65
Primarily an off-spinner of high quality, Narine has been quite effective as an opener providing some blazing starts for KKR. Entered the tournament with more questions being raised about his bowling action but finished with his reputation intact. With Narine in the side, captains have lot more options to play with.
RASHID KHAN (SRH)
M: 17, W: 21, Best: 3-19, Econ: 6.73
The 19-year-old leg-spinner troubled every batsman he bowled to. His rich haul of wickets and a mean economy rate made him the best spin bowler this season.
The Afghan teen is no mug with the bat and can land some big blows,as the Knight Riders found out in the Qualifier.
JASPRIT BUMRAH (MI)
M: 14, W: 17, Best: 3-15, Econ: 6.88
It’s very difficult to keep a bowler like Bumrah out because he is not only good at opening the attack but also in the death overs. Although he did not start well this season, he quickly found his radar and didn’t look back.
UMESH YADAV (RCB)
M: 14, W: 20, Best: 3-23, Econ: 7.86
It was heartening to see an Indian fast bowler rattle batsmen with pace as Yadav waded into rival line-ups regularly. He was at his best when he opened the attack but was not as effective at the ‘death’. Still, his best season by far.
AB DE VILLIERS (RCB)
A tough call to leave a player of such calibre on the bench. Better performers with the bat and ‘utility’ players get the nod ahead of the South African in this list. He misses out by the smallest of margins but remains in the group.