The calmness of Mahendra Singh Dhoni is contagious, feels Chennai Super Kings' new hero Sam Billings, who was happy to have his skipper by his side during their successful chase in a high-scoring IPL encounter against Kolkata Knight Riders.
Billings smashed 56 off 23 balls as CSK chased down a stiff target of 203 in their victorious homecoming. It was Billings' first chance to bat alongside Dhoni and their half-century partnership did go a long way in clinching a win for the team.
"It's about being composed and there's not a better person to have at the crease than Dhoni," Billings said at the post-match press conference.
"He (Dhoni) is so composed and calm. It's impossible for it not to kind of rub on to you. It was about building a partnership together," Billings' admiration for the former India captain was quite evident.
"I know it's a cliche but in T20 cricket, on an absolute belter, you can take time. You are in not in so much of a rush all the time. Actually you have got an opportunity to get yourself in, run hard and get ones and twos," Billings assessed his knock.
About what Dhoni said during the partnership, the Kent cricketer, said he did not really say much and it was a matter of running hard in order to minimize the dot balls.
"He didn't really say too much. It was a matter of running hard and minimizing the dot balls. He's very fast between the wickets and that's a key part especially against quality spin, it's a matter of rotating strike, not letting them settle so that was a huge part."
Dhoni's finishing skills in limited overs cricket made him the cricketer that he is and Billings wants to emulate his idol.
"Once you get in and are busy, you pick up these boundaries and sixes as well. We know how much power we have got throughout the side. It's just a matter of playing pretty smart. And in his whole career, he's just played it very smart and just finished off more games than anyone else,"Billings, who was dropped early in his innings by Robin Uthappa, said.
It was first match for CSK at the Chepauk after serving two-year suspension for spot-fixing during the 2013 IPL. The match did mean a lot to the fans accepted Billings.
"It means a lot to me but also to the team. But probably it means more to the fans who haven't had cricket here for the last two years," Billings said.
"We saw the passion of our fans during practice sessions. We had 10,000 people rock up for a practice game. It shows how much it means to people in this part of the world."
KKR all-rounder Andre Russell tried to rationalise the defeat despite a big total posted by the team, courtesy an incredible 36-ball-88.
"To be honest, I have played a lot of T20 games. I have seen teams lose after scoring 180 or 200 runs. I am not going to point fingers and say this guy did not bowl well or that guy did not bowl well. We just have to learn from this. And take it another step like 'make sure we nail our yorkers'. And, you have got to be precise on what we are going to bowl," Russell said after the match.
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