Captain Cool Mahendra Singh Dhoni has delivered for India time and time again in the toughest situations. From pressure run-chases to World Cup finals to series deciders, MS Dhoni is the man for every occasion and has carried the burden of a nation for over a decade with the bat and in the field. In ODI cricket, MS Dhoni is widely revered as the greatest finisher to have lived and today we are counting down his five greatest knocks in the 50-over format.
At number five, we start with a classic Dhoni chase against one of the best sides in the world. Chasing 270 against Australia, MS Dhoni walked in at 178/4 with Gautam Gambhir dismissed for 92. In classic Dhoni style, captain cool took the game deep. After sharing a 61-run partnership with Suresh Raina, India needed 13 runs off the last over from Clint McKay. Once again, MSD timed it to perfection and smashed a half volley for a humongous 112-metre six off the third ball of the over to completely change the game.
McKay cracked under pressure and followed it up with a beamer that Dhoni swatted to square leg before eventually finishing the chase with two balls to spare.
At number four, we have another Dhoni special in a run chase in the final of the tri-nations series between India, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. India had done well to restrict the Lankans to only 201 in the final but were staring down the barrel of a defeat after Shaminda Eranga and Rangana Herath had ripped through the Indian batting line-up. India were reeling at 182/9 in the 47th over when Ishant Sharma accompanied MS Dhoni at the crease. With wickets tumbling like flies around him, Dhoni blocked his way throughout the entire innings and took the game to the final over. With India needing 15 runs off the final five balls, Dhoni did what he does best and smacked three consecutive boundaries to win the game and remind the world why he is considered as one of the greatest finishers to have played the game.
MS Dhoni announced himself on the international stage in style against Pakistan, scoring his first century in only his fifth innings in ODI cricket. Following Tendulkar’s early dismissal, Dhoni was promoted to number three and shared a blistering partnership with Virender Sehwag. India raced to 100 runs inside 10 overs with Dhoni carting Mohammad Sami, Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Afridi to all parts of the stadium. Dhoni reached his maiden century off 88 balls before unleashing his full of array of shots as India scored a mammoth total of 356.
MS Dhoni’s highest ODI score came back in 2005 in another stunning innings from number three. Chasing 299, MS Dhoni walked in during the first over following Sachin Tendulkar’s early dismissal and went on to make what is still the highest individual score by a wicket-keeper in ODI cricket. MSD deposited the Sri Lankan bowlers all across the ground in a stunning assault that included 15 fours and 10 sixes. Dhoni scoring 183* at an astonishing strike rate of 126 as India chased the total with 23 balls remaining, and in true MSD style, he finished the game with a six.
MS Dhoni’s finest innings in an India shirt undoubtedly came in the 2011 World Cup Final at the Wankhede Stadium. Dhoni promoted himself ahead of Yuvraj Singh – the player of the tournament – as he felt that he could tackle the off-spin of Muttiah Muralitharan better than the left-hander, having played him in the nets at CSK. Despite not scoring too many runs in the tournament, Dhoni built a steady partnership with Gautam Gambhir and kept the required run rate in check. He slowly moved through the gears after carving Muralitharan through the covers and then cutting Thisara Perera for six over deep point.
Dhoni eventually finished the game as only he can, with a stunning six over long-on to end the 28-year wait for India and help them left the World Cup in their backyard.
[Featured Image Credit: ANI]