Cape Town: Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday said that the loss of momentum due to free hits conceded to the opposition while defending the target was one of the reasons for his side's defeat at the hands of Highveld Lions in Champions League Twenty20 here.
The Lions hit a six off a free hit in the ninth over bowled by Albie Morkel and then a four of a similar penalty in the 17th over bowled by R Ashwin and Dhoni said that these had shifted the momentum in favour of the opposition.
"The timing of the no-balls was crucial. Small things matter. All of a sudden the momentum shifted, they were able to score a lot more freely," Dhoni said after his side lost by six wickets to slump to their second consecutive defeat.
Dhoni, however, said that the 158 his side posted after being asked to bat was a good score though they could have scored more. "We got off to a very good start, we lost too many wickets in the middle, so we were not able to slog the way we could have, but we still got the score we wanted. I think 160 was a good score," he said.
Chennai are now in a difficult position to make it to the semifinals, having lost to Sydney Sixers in their opening match on October 14 but Dhoni said that they would give their best in the remaining two matches and see what happens. "It's difficult for us now to qualify for the semifinals but nothing comes easy. We have to learn our mistakes and apply ourselves and come up with some big scores," said Dhoni.
Lions captain Alviro Petersen heaped praise on his batsmen, especially Gulam Bodi who struck a 46-ball 64, for the win. "Halfway through the game I thought we gave 15 runs too many. The batsmen stayed calm. Bodi played exceptionally well with McKenzie and the two young men finished it for us. It was a case of getting to the last three overs. Guys at the end showed some mettle and steel," he said.
"Generally 10-15 overs is a sort of dead period, you tend to knock it around, but Gulam never allowed the rate to go beyond 10-11 runs an over."