Netizens went crazy after former Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper MS Dhoni successfully managed to rewind the clock, showcasing his old avatar of a destructive batter in the death overs as he smacked Mumbai Indians (MI) skipper Hardik Pandya for three sixes in a row in an Indian Premier League (IPL) fixture this week.

With MS Dhoni arriving at the crease in the final over of CSK's innings and the score reading 180/3 at the stage, nobody predicted the carnage that was to follow


However, the former CSK captain, widely believed to be the greatest finisher in cricket, had other ideas as he lined up Hardik Pandya for three successive sixes in the over. 


The big mistake that Hardik Pandya committed while bowling to MS Dhoni at the death was offering him length balls, all of which perished in the stands. 


MS Dhoni eventually finished his innings on an unbeaten 20 off 4 balls, helping Chennai Super Kings to post 206/4 on the board. 


Hardik Pandya's below-par bowling against MS Dhoni during the concluding stages of their innings was even slammed by the legendary Sunil Gavaskar.


Interestingly, Hardik Pandya bowled the final over of CSK's innings to his mentor and ex-India captain MS Dhoni, who belted him for three consecutive sixes. Eventually, MS Dhoni's maximums proved to be the difference between the two sides, as CSK won the game by 20 runs.

“Probably the worst kind of bowling that I've seen for a long, long time. It almost looks like I've had this embrace with my hero. I've got a bowling kind of deliveries that he's gonna hit for sixes. One 6 is fine. The next one again a length ball when you know that this batter is looking for a length ball to hit. The third ball again, a full toss on the leg side and he's looking for it and hits it for a 6. Absolutely ordinary bowling, ordinary captaincy,” Sunil Gavaskar said on Star Sports. 

On the other hand, Hardik Pandya's predecessor Rohit Sharma's admirers dubbed the former “Chapri (a person with no sense of responsibility)” before asking the police to register a case against him for hurting the latter's sentiments due to the home team's loss at the Wankhede Stadium.


Meanwhile, one must not forget that Hardik Pandya's appointment as the leader of the Mumbai Indians has been controversial, to say the least. 


After the Mumbai-based franchise announced the sacking of their most successful captain Rohit Sharma, with Hardik Pandya taking over from him in the wake of his arrival from Gujarat Titans, fans reacted to the development so much so that the team lost millions of followers across social media.


While the Mumbai Indians management has backed Hardik Pandya to the hilt, the results of the side in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) haven't gone his way, with the former five-time champions languishing in the bottom three on the table.


Former cricketers have not only raised questions about Hardik Pandya's captaincy but his poor batting and bowling have put extra pressure on him.


Hardik Pandya's overall figures in the IPL 2024 don't look impressive at all – he's managed to score only 131 runs at a mediocre average of 26.20 with the highest score of 36 in the six matches he's played in the tournament so far.


In the bowling department, the Gujarat-born all-rounder has hardly bowled and when he has taken up the ball, he has gone for plenty of runs.


He has picked just three wickets in six games but what would be worrying the Mumbai Indians management is his economy rate. In the 11 overs, Hardik Pandya has bowled, he has been virtually clobbered by opposition batters, allowing them to cherry-pick him for sixes and boundaries. The result is that he has given away runs at 12 per over.


Moreover, the treatment meted out to him by the fans in the IPL, both in Mumbai and elsewhere, seemed to have had an adverse effect on Hardik Pandya's performances.


Wherever he has gone, the fans have booed him with Rohit Sharma chants, reminding everyone that the 37-year-old is still the most loved Mumbai Indians player, not just at the Wankhede Stadium but across India.


Nonetheless, Hardik Pandya's Mumbai Indians colleague Shreyas Gopal reckoned that his captain would win the hearts of the fans sooner than later.

“I have known Hardik for a decade, and nothing much has changed. He is a really tough guy, and something like this is only going to motivate him. The way he has taken it so far is very inspiring for a lot of us. Although it's not easy to take it daily, he is strong and kudos to him. He has not let it affect him personally. But, it will probably be there in his head,” Shreyas Gopal said ahead of an IPL game.