Chennai: Awestruck by MS Dhoni's swashbuckling knock against his side, former Australia all-rounder and Sunrisers Hyderabad coach Tom Moody says India is "very lucky" to have the 31-year-old "special" cricketer as captain.
"Dhoni is special. It is as simple as that. In any form of the game he performs remarkably. He is a very special cricketer and a very special leader. Chennai and India are very lucky to have him," Moody said.
It was Dhoni's blazing half-century that guided Chennai to a win over Hyderabad in a tense IPL match on Thursday. Moody said they fell 10-15 runs short of setting up what, according to him, would have been a match-winning total.
"I think we were ten or fifteen runs short of what we should have scored," Moody said after his team's last-over defeat. After the loss of early wickets we managed to build momentum at the back end with some good batting by Shikhar Dhawan and Ashish Reddy. We may have made a bit of ground but we lost early wickets. In T-20 cricket if you lose early wickets it is hard to get the total that you would like to get," the Aussie added.
Moody was however pleased with the way his boys fought and said they showed a lot of character.
"The pluses are that we fought very hard. We showed the characteristics of a side that is prepared to fight right down to the last ball. I am very proud that each of the players stuck in the game and they fought and stayed in the contest. We showed to a lot of people that we are a side that has got character and prepared to fight regardless of the big names that Chennai have."
Moody defended the decisions to send Amit Mishra early while batting and asking Ashish Reddy to bowl the last over, with an in-form Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the crease.
"You may consider it strange. 20-20 is all about element of surprise. Sending Mishra higher up the order was that he is in good form and also wanted some power hitters to enhance the total at the end of innings. What we have seen in the past is that Chennai is a team that takes 10 runs an over. We felt that if we send Mishra, we might be able to score quickly. As for Ashish Reddy instead of Darren Sammy, it is one of those decisions that the captain could make under pressure. You have got a choice of two or three bowlers at a time and obviously the captain was to go with Ashish because he had a good knock with the bat and sometimes he throws the ball to him for the last over."
The former Australia all-rounder said it was always going to be a difficult task, bowling to someone like Dhoni at that stage of the match.
"You know anyone could have gone at the last over. It is certainly no fault of the bowler or the captain when the game is played particularly when you are bowling at someone like Dhoni. It is always going to be a tough task."
Asked about promising leg-spinner Karan Sharma, the coach said, "Even though he is a leg-spinner he adds variety to attack and he is a different style of spinner to what Mishra is. He is a strong competitor. That is what I like about him. He is prepared to have a decent scrap out there. He has done well so far."
Karan bowled exceedingly well, conceding just 8 runs in his four-over spell. On Dhawan's injury midway through the match, Moody said the batsman was doing fine.