Mahendra Singh Dhoni definitely finds a place amongst one of the greatest players to have graced world cricket over the years. His overall influence and a striking personality, coupled with his remarkable stats as a captain are enough to confirm the belief that he is truly one of the world’s best. India’s most successful white-ball captain, with three prestigious ICC trophies under his belt, Dhoni’s cricketing brain is inferior to none in the business.
His captaincy can be labelled as unorthodox and so can be his batting skills. A revolutionary in the ODI format, his calm demeanour in the most extreme of situations is what sets him apart from others. His headstrong mind gives enough confidence to his teammates that a match is not over until it’s over. Alongside this, his exceptional ability to strike the best bowlers for big hits makes him arguably the best finisher the game has ever seen.
At the age of 39, where most players hang up their boots, Dhoni still finds himself in contention to make the trip to Australia in the upcoming T20 World Cup. Though it’s uncertain if he will be able to end his journey with a fairytale or not, here we relive some of Dhoni’s best finishing masterpieces that are sure to be remembered by cricket fans for years to come.
72* vs Pakistan, Lahore (2006)
It might not be easy to remember Dhoni without the whites in his beard, but back in the day, the man sported long hair and a similar calmness in his approach to a match. At Lahore, walking in to bat at 190/5 chasing 289, Dhoni scored an unbeaten 72 off 46 and won the game for India. Added to this, the then President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf while presenting him with the ‘Man of the Match’ award asked him not to cut his hair.
77* vs Pakistan, Karachi (2006)
In the same tour of Pakistan in 2006, India were chasing 287 at Karachi when Dhoni walked in to bat with 146 runs needed to win. At a time when the T20 snowball was yet to hit world cricket, 82 runs off the last 10 overs proved to be a sight to behold. One can presume that Dhoni was probably a visionary in those days, and thanks to his quickfire 77 not out off 56 deliveries, India won the match with 19 balls to spare.
44* vs Australia, Adelaide (2012)
Chasing 270 to win against Australia at Adelaide, Dhoni walked in to bat at 178/4 in the 35th over. He took the game deep and yet, in the last over, India needed 13 to win. Dhoni was on strike on the second ball of the over with 12 required off four deliveries and guess what? The finisher finished things off with two balls to spare without even breaking any sweat.
46* vs West Indies, St. Lucia (2009)
In a rain-interrupted game at St. Lucia against the West Indies, India were chasing 159 off 22 overs. Dhoni promoted himself to number 3 in this encounter and scored an unbeaten 46 off 34 balls to take the team over the line in the last over again! The finish, however, was closer than it sounds. India required 11 off the last over, but an unperturbed Dhoni hit a six on the second delivery to seal the win for his country.
85* vs Zimbabwe, Auckland (2015)
In the 2015 Cricket World Cup, India were on a roll – bowling oppositions out and chasing down all kinds of totals. But an unexpected hiccup was about to happen against Zimbabwe. India were chasing 287, and when Dhoni walked out to bat in the 23rd over, the entire top order was back in the hut. That did not deter the man, who finished off the chase with a six, after a wonderfully crafted innings of 85* from 76 balls.
45* vs Sri Lanka, Pallekele (2017)
Another last over chase but on a much tougher track at Pallekele. Though the target was just 202, this was a time which saw the emergence of Akila Dananjaya and his mystery spin, something the Indian batsmen were having problems navigating. With wickets constantly falling on the other end, Dhoni held on to take the match till the last over where 15 were needed to win. Yet again, Dhoni finished off the chase with two balls to spare and an individual score of 45* off 52 balls.
Special mention: 2011 Cricket World Cup-winning chase
And finally, perhaps the most predictable knock of this list. The one innings that defined MS Dhoni’s composure and big-game temperament. In the 2011 Cricket World Cup final held in India, the Men in Blue were chasing 275 against a strong Sri Lankan bowling attack. Till then, Dhoni had had an average World Cup campaign, but still took the now-famous decision of promoting himself to number 4 to counter the dangerous Muttiah Muralitharan. The captain walked in to bat with India at a tricky 114/3 after 22 overs. After an unbeaten 91 runs and a legendary six to win the coveted title, the rest is history!
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