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IPL 2024: Moody, Jaffer, Uthappa marvel at Dhoni's impressive fitness after nine-ball 28 vs LSG

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Mumbai, April 20 (IANS) Former Australia cricketer and Sunrisers Hyderabad coach Tom Moody and ex-India players, Zaheer Khan, Wasim Jaffer and Robin Uthappa have hailed Mahendra Singh Dhoni's fitness after the former Chennai Super Kings' skipper came up with another brilliant knock in the death overs of Match 34 of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 in Lucknow.

Dhoni nailed the last bite by scoring an unbeaten 28 off nine deliveries to help CSK reach a modest 176/6 in 20 overs, helping the five-time champions when they looked like finishing with only 150-odd. Dhoni gave the finishing touch to the innings after Ravindra Jadeja kept CSK afloat with an unbeaten 57.

However, K.L. Rahul (82) and Quinton de Kock (54) shared a 134-run opening partnership during a batting masterclass, helping Lucknow Super Giants beat Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets in the highest successful run chase at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow on Friday.

Moody said Dhoni was still very fit, very focussed and hungry even at 42 and was doing well even without playing any cricket before IPL 2024.

“42 years old, still very fit, still very focussed, still very hungry, but the puzzle is, he does not play any cricket coming in and playing in the IPL. It is hard to come out of the cold and suddenly have that expectation to be able to perform at an elite level is near impossible,” Moody was quoted by ESPNcricinfo.

After not getting to bat in CSK's first two matches, Dhoni hammered an unbeaten 38 off 16 balls against Delhi Capitals in a losing cause at Vizag on March 31. Last week, the former India captain blasted a hat-trick of sixes in the final over in a blazing 4-ball unbeaten 20 against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede stadium that helped CSK beat MI by 20 runs at the Wankhede Stadium.

Considering Dhoni's blistering form, former India cricketers Wasim Jaffer and Robin Uthappa too joined the queue to praise the veteran batter with Uthappa saying that the only thing that could stop Dhoni is his health.

Jaffer said hitting in the death overs is very difficult, but Dhoni still does it very smoothly. It is incredible to watch Dhoni deliver without any match practice, said Jaffer.

"It's incredible. Hitting in death is one of the most difficult things against the bowlers who are on top of their game, playing international cricket, and he does that so easily. It's incredible to watch him do that without any match practice,” said Jaffer.

Uthappa said the only thing stopping Dhoni would be his own body but claimed that the CSK star's mind is still up to it and looking to play innovative shots.

"Well, I think the only thing that's stopping him is his health. I think his fitness will be the only thing that stops him from playing any further. He loves the game. He's deeply passionate about it and wants to continue playing it. But if there's anything that will stop him, I think it will be his own body. That will probably give way because the mind is there. The mind is innovating. The mind is staying up to date. He's like, oh, everyone's playing the ramp shot. I can do it too," Uthappa said on JioCinema.

Zaheer said the roar accompanying Dhoni's walk to the middle or while he is batting seems to be getting louder with each knock, adding that it was unbelievable to see Dhoni put pressure on the bowlers.

"The roar is getting bigger and better and louder, and so is MS Dhoni's presence there out on the field. He's just getting better and better with every inning that he's playing and just the sheer impact of him, just unbelievable to see him go out there and put this kind of pressure on the bowlers, just phenomenal," said Zaheer on JioCinema.

Early this season, Dhoni handed the captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad after leading CSK to their fifth IPL title in 2023.

--IANS

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