Mumbai Indians skipper Hardik Pandya could not hide his appreciation for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s tactical acumen following his team’s 20-run loss to Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday. While Dhoni’s barrage of three sixes and a hurriedly-completed two runs off the fourth and last delivery was something that gave CSK the winning cushion, it was the former India skipper’s reading of the game from behind the stumps that Pandya felt made the difference on a belter of a track.

“They (CSK) were smart with their plans and used the longer boundary well. They got the hang of it and they have a man behind the stumps telling them what’s working,” said Pandya after his side failed to chase 206 despite Rohit Sharma smashing his second IPL century and batting from start to finish.

CSK skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad gave Dhoni a huge compliment, saying his power-hitting with just four balls remaining made the difference between victory and defeat.

Dhoni, 42, scored 20 off four deliveries, which in the end made the difference to the match’s outcome.

“Our young wicketkeeper (MSD) scoring three sixes down the order helped a lot and I think that was the difference. To start off, on this kind of ground, you need 10-15 extra runs. We were looking at 215-220, but Bumrah bowled well,” said Gaikwad, who took over the captaincy duties from Dhoni this season.

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“Bowling-wise, we were spot-on with our execution. Even in powerplay, I would have taken six overs for 60. These kinds of venues demand both skills: batting and bowling. Our (Lasith) Malinga (Matheesha Pathirana) bowled exceptionally well and nailed those yorkers,” he said.

On why he did not open the innings and instead sent Ajinkya Rahane with Rachin Ravindra, Gaikwad said, “Nothing, Jinks (Rahane) was carrying a bit of a niggle. Thought it was better for him to open and get away quick runs. I’m fine batting anywhere.” Player of the Match, Pathirana, who grabbed his best IPL figures of 4/28, said he was a bit nervous as he was coming back into the side after recovering from a niggle.

“When we bowled in powerplay, I was nervous. I don’t think about results and I just think about execution. First of all, I was having a niggle before two weeks and all support staff and players helped me.

“That’s the main thing to have my form,” said the Sri Lankan, who has modelled his action on the lines of the legendary Malinga.

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