His records speak volumes about his caliber. His rivals dot on his abilities as a finisher while his teammates terms him to be a ‘Captain Cool’ who knows the art of chasing a target under pressure. Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is inarguably one of the best finishers in ODI cricket.
Who could ever forget his 109 partnership with Gautam Gambhir that helped India bring the World Cup after 28 years? Or for that matter the memory of Dhoni hitting Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan over the fence on his way to 183 not out is still afresh in mind of cricket fans. Set a daunting target of 299 at Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Dhoni made the target look easy as he bludgeoned the Lankan bowlers and helped India win the match with 23 balls to spare.
And in the last two ODIs in the ongoing series in Australia, the Indian skipper has once again proved that he is the perfect man to be at the crease when the game is on the line. In the match against Australia, Dhoni kept his best for the last. With 13 runs needed in last six balls, Captain Cool maintained his composure and took India to victory with two balls to spare and two days later he nearly roped in the match for his team against the Lankans that ultimately ended in a thrilling draw.
Crediting Mahendra Singh Dhoni for India’s win against Australia in the fourth ODI, Australian skipper Michael Clarke termed Dhoni to be a class player. "Dhoni played really well. He is a class player. And his statistics show that. He is a very good striker of the ball and you saw that in the last over with that six that he hit off Clint McKay," he said.
Gautam Gambhir meanwhile said that the ‘Captain Cool’ sobriquet befits him. “Dhoni has always been a good finisher. He stays calm and that important in these situations,” he said.
“When you have MS batting, anything can happen,” is what Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene had to say about his compatriot. “A guy like Dhoni could take you apart. He is a great finisher. He is cool and calm and backs himself. He is a strong character," he added.
In the 200 ODIs that Dhoni has played so far, he hasn’t had batted in 21 games. In the 173 innings that he has played, he he’s been not out 46 times and of the 46 times that he hasn’t been out, India has won 43 times -- a winning percentage of 93.5.
Here are some of Dhoni’s qualities which make him a great finisher in One-Day cricket:
1) Dhoni always has a lot of scoring options. He knows how to rotate the strike and at the same time is capable of hitting the big shots. He is very strong and can hit the ball really hard. He is very flexible in his approach and can stay calm at pressure situations. This makes him one of the best finishers in ODIs.
2) He is one such player who is a great runner between the wickets. Dhoni is not only quick, but he also a great judge of a run and this is one quality which is essential for a finisher. Though people associate players down the batting order to be a great hitter, this one quality helps him let the scoreboard ticking and keep the opposition under constant pressure.
3) He has the mind of a finisher. He is Captain Cool, always under control. He is not predetermined and makes his shot selection according to the situational demand. He keeps his calm and composure and uses it to best effect—i.e. to analyse the situation and work in the best possible manner.
4) He has the guts to take responsibilities and risk. Being the captain, he knows his duties and does not shy away from taking the responsibilities. Who can forget the calculated risk that he took during the World Cup final, promoting himself ahead of in-form Yuvraj? And the result – India won the Cup. Dhoni is one those few captains in sports who have always led from the front, more so, in a situation of crisis. Dhoni has proved to be a leader who leads by example.
5) Dhoni is a motivator. Apart from remaining cool himself, he tries to motivate his players and even amidst all the frenzy and hoopla built around the big game and the kind of pressure the players are under, he encourages them to play naturally and we know the results.
6) Dhoni does not shy away from admitting mistakes. There have been instances when his decisions have backfired. Dhoni has always been graceful enough to accept his follies and doesn't pass the buck to his other teammates and this has helped to build him the required trust within the team and mutual trust betters the performance on the field.