You can never predict MS Dhoni. When critics were panning him from all quarters after his 96-ball 51 in the Sydney ODI that saw India concede a 1-0 lead in the ODI series against Australia, MS Dhoni unleashed two match-winning fifties to steer India to 2-1 series win.
All but MS Dhoni’s show in ODI series win
It was India’s maiden bilateral ODI series win against Australia Down Under. In the series, MS Dhoni totalled 193 runs at an average of 193 in three innings. He was dismissed only once during the series.
In the Melbourne series decider, which was a virtual final, after India had levelled the series 1-1 at Adelaide, MS Dhoni got a few reprieves before he cracked a match-winning knock of 87* to steer India to 2-1 series win in the company of Kedar Jadhav.
Dhoni was dropped on the first ball by Glenn Maxwell and again on 74 by Australian skipper Aaron Finch when the match was evenly poised.
Nevertheless, the cool and composed MS Dhoni saw India across the finish line with 4 balls to spare. He was not the one to hit the winning runs as Kedar Jadhav stole the limelight this time.
MS Dhoni received the man of the series for his three fifties in as many innings. Dhoni also helped himself to a unique record during his performances in the series.
Unique milestone for MS Dhoni
He reached a unique milestone of averaging above 100 in successful run chases in ODIs. Post the knock of 87*, Dhoni averages 103.07 in 73 successful chases in ODIs. He has scored 2,783 with 2 tons and 19 fifties in successful chases in ODIs. He has remained unbeaten 46 times out of these 73 innings.
The next batsman to challenge MS Dhoni in this batting average is his successor Virat Kohli. The Indian captain averages 97.98 in 78 innings with a record 21 tons.
Dhoni’s Bradmanesque batting average in successful chases is a lot due to his penchant to carry his team across the finish line and hit the winning runs. He has managed to remain unbeaten 63 percent of times he has gone out to bat in successful chases in ODIs.
Virat Kohli too has imbibed the same qualities from Dhoni and looks to be at the crease when the winning runs are hit. Out of 21 tons coming in successful ODI chases, Kohli has been unbeaten 9 times. That’s a great feat for a top-order batsman to bat through the innings in an ODI chase.
The next in the queue in this list is Michael Bevan who averages 86.25 in successful ODI chases for Australia in 45 innings. Bevan was once considered the best ODI batsman of his times, and he is one of the few batsmen to average over 50 in ODIs.
Dhoni’s effort is commendable
But Dhoni’s effort is laudable for doing the tough job of finishing off games for his country on a consistent basis. Yes, he may have had some failures, his strike rate has diminished too, the big hits have eluded him, but what we see now is a Dhoni who is ready to fight it out in the middle and win matches for his country, despite all criticism surrounding his batting.
His latest series-winning show is an answer to those who had said he’s finished. He’s not finished yet, but ready to finish games for India on a consistent basis. And he’s targetting another World Cup glory to finish off his career on a high. That’s quite a finishing art though.