Gautam Gambhir has criticised MS Dhoni for failing to ‘lead from the front’ as Chennai Super Kings (CSK) succumbed to a 16-run defeat to Rajasthan Royals (RR) in their IPL 2020 clash on Tuesday.

The three-time IPL champions faced a daunting chase of 217, but Dhoni, playing in just his second mainstream match since the World Cup last year, brought himself on only after CSK were five down. He also did not show much intent to score quickly until the last over, when he hit Tom Curran for three consecutive maximums, by which point the target was beyond them.

“I was a bit surprised, to be honest,” Gambhir told ESPNCricinfo. “MS Dhoni batting at No. 7? And sending [Ruturaj] Gaikwad before him, Sam Curran before him. Makes no sense to me. In fact you should be leading from the front. And this is not what you call leading from the front. Batting at No. 7 when you’re chasing what … 213 [217]? The game was over. Faf was probably the lone warrior.

“Yes, you can talk about MS Dhoni’s last over [when he hit three sixes], but it was of no use to be honest. It was just all personal runs.”

Gambhir, who led the Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL titles, further added that any other captain would have copped a lot of flak had he batted as lower down the order with their team chasing a huge total.

“See, if someone else would have done this, some other [batsman] captain had batted No. 7, he would have got a lot of flak. It is MS Dhoni – probably why people don’t talk about it,” Gambhir said. “When you don’t have Suresh Raina, you’re making people believe that Sam Curran is better than you. You’re making people believe that Ruturaj Gaikwad, Curran, Kedar Jadhav, Faf du Plessis, M Vijay, all these guys, are better than you.

“There is nothing wrong if you end up getting out early, at least start leading from the front, trying to inspire the team as well. What you did in the last over, probably if you’d done that coming in at No. 4 or 5, alongside Faf, you could have made a game out of it. But probably there was no such intent to make a game out of it.

“I thought that after the [first] six overs, they had literally given up on the game. And probably MS was trying to get back into that match rhythm of batting till the end and get some runs under his belt so he can actually play this kind of innings in the coming games.

“You’ve got to be in the present, try and win each game possible. I thought there was no intent to win the game and they were never there in the chase. You can talk about Faf’s innings, but Faf initially was struggling big time. So I thought it was absolute miscalculation, probably not the right captaincy as well. This is not how you ask someone like MS to lead the side.”