As MS Dhoni turns 39, here’s a look at his top 5 knocks in the form of run-chase in ODIs.
In the format dominated by the top-order batsmen, very few lower middle-order batsmen are known to have made an impact in the limited-overs cricket. Of them, one such batsman, and probably the best finisher of the game is the captain cool from India, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
At the break of the 21st century, the Indian batting line-up had more muscle at the top than in the lower middle-order. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, and Rahul Dravid finished games regularly, and it was only on odd occasions that youngsters such as Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif were required to step up.
However, when the transition phase came in the mid-2000s, the trend slowly started to shift. Newer players operated at the top, and experiences ones became a must lower down the order. It was around this time that MS Dhoni was making his foot firm in the Indian line-up.
Cut to the present, with 350 games past him, and an average of 50.37 to his credit, MS Dhoni is undoubtedly one of the best finishers that the world has ever seen. He has won innumerable games for his country while chasing, and as he turns 39 today, here is a peek at the Top 5 knocks in the form of run-chase by MS Dhoni in ODIs.
As always, we have analyzed the top batting knocks on the basis of the batting points calculated from the overall aspect of the game such as runs scored, acceleration bonus, relative strike rate and runs bonus, number of fours, number of sixes, number of good knocks points, match-winning knock points, and the player of the match points.
To leave out the biases and perceptions, we have kept the things simple by comparing the overall batting points of all the knocks to find out the Top 5 knocks in the form of run-chase by MS Dhoni in ODIs.
#5: 101*(107) vs Bangladesh || Dhaka, 2010
SR: 94.4 || 4s: 9 || 6s: 0 || Batting Points: 149.6
A slowly improving team then, Bangladesh had done well to pose a target of 297 for the Indian team. However, the end result was an undesired one, as the Kohli-MSD partnership was on display in the second innings.
Chasing 297, India were in a slight spot of bother at 51-3, but MS Dhoni negated it with his presence on the pitch. He took the pressure of young Virat Kohli by scoring runs at a decent rate, while also keeping an eye on the target.
Unlike his usual aggressive approach, Dhoni’s attitude was more calculated, and one that oozed of maturity and class in this innings. He constructed the chase by collecting timely singles & doubles, and then turned the screw on the Bangla bowlers by frequently picking gaps to boundaries. He finished the game with 15 balls to spare, and helped India pull off a comfortable victory.
#4: 77*(56) vs Pakistan || Lahore, 2006
SR: 137.5 || 4s: 6 || 6s: 4 || Batting Points: 153.6
Team India had already wrapped up the series by then, but as the rivalry stands, a win over neighbors Pakistan is always special. After his stunning debut century of 148 against Pakistan, MS Dhoni had another special knock to offer on the crease in the final game of the series.
Chasing a firm target of 287, Team India started well with a positive partnership between Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid. After the duo got out, the onus was on the Yuvi-Dhoni partnership to finish the game for the team. Yuvraj was in scintillating form, and he got to his century, firmly aided by MSD’s invaluable contribution.
Dhoni scored 77 runs from 56 deliveries, a knock that included six boundaries and four sixes, and helped India cross the line with 19 balls to spare. In terms of his approach, Dhoni of old, attacked the bowling, and used his power to get the reach, and the distance to improve the scoring rate.
#3: 91*(79) vs Sri Lanka || Mumbai, 2011
SR: 115.1 || 4s: 8 || 6s: 2 || Batting Points: 161.2
“Dhoniiii, finishes off in style”. The words still echos in my mind, the six is etched clearly in my eyes, and the special knock by MS Dhoni that brought us the World Cup after a gap of 28 years holds a special place in hearts of every individual. While this should be the most favorite chase, it is third on the list of best chases by Dhoni in ODIs.
A World Cup final, and with three wickets down, it was the in-form Yuvraj Singh who was expected to arrive at the crease. But, to the surprise of many, in came the rusty and the man under pressure, MS Dhoni. However, Dhoni looked confident from the word go, as he got himself busy by rotating the strike, and getting boundaries at regular intervals.
He complemented Gambhir perfectly with his mixed approach- brave against the spinners, and measurable against quicks. When Gambhir got out for a well compiled 97, the match was still in the balance. But, with a couple of boundaries, MSD eased the nerves across the country.
With 9 balls to go, the moment of the match arrived as MS Dhoni hit that memorable six. With the unforgettable celebration that followed next, we can just be grateful to have witnessed one of the best World Cup knocks of all time.
#2: 72*(46) vs Pakistan || Lahore, 2006
SR: 156.5 || 4s: 13 || 6s: 0 || Batting Points: 162.8
Although MSD had impressed at No.3, it was lower down the order that he found his true calling. After his showing in this game, even the team management became persuaded of his capacity to close games- the foresight of seeing the potential finisher in MSD.
A stiff target of 280, and a disastrous start with two wickets down for 12 runs, Sachin Tendulkar had to put on his fiercest shield to weather the storm. He scored 95, and built a useful partnership with Yuvraj Singh, but with 100 runs required from the last 90 balls, India were actually struggling.
MSD, though, had other ideas. With his attacking gear set at full throttle, he used his long handle to great effect to get to his half-century off 35 balls. He then added 22 runs from 11 deliveries, and helped India cross the line comfortably. The Ranchi cricketer’s final score stood at 72 runs off 46 balls, this helping India take the lead in the series.
#1: 183*(145) vs Sri Lanka || Jaipur, 2005
SR: 126.2 || 4s: 15 || 6s: 10 || Batting Points: 330.4
The year was 2005, and MS Dhoni was still gunning for a spot in the Indian team then. He had shown promise, but to become a regular feature in the squad, he had to do something special. That’s when we witnessed probably MS Dhoni’s best knock in his career.
Hunting a daunting target of 300, India lost Sachin Tendulkar very early. Coming up-the-order at No.3, MS Dhoni showed no nerves whatsoever, as he combined with Virender Sehwag to take on Sri Lanka’s bowling. Even when Sehwag got out, MSD did not deviate from his fearless approach.
MS Dhoni completed his century off 85 balls, and his final knock comprised of 15 fours and 10 gigantic sixers, With 4 overs to spare, the long-haired Dhoni helped India cross the line comfortably. To date, 183* remains Dhoni’s highest score in ODI cricket, and for the fans of the game, it is one innings that is worth watching on loop.
So, these have been the Top 5 knocks in the form of run-chase by MS Dhoni in ODI cricket.
Thanks for reading! Which of the above-mentioned top knocks by MS Dhoni is your favorite? Please, let us know in the comments.