Mahendra Singh Dhoni has always been a big name in any form of cricket that he has been a part of. Despite not cutting it as impressive in Test cricket like in the other two formats, he still holds a special place in everyone’s heart.
With the former Indian captain saying goodbye to international cricket on India’s 74th Independence Day, fans and firebrands will be eagerly looking forward to IPL 2020 as their loving Mahi will take the field again.
What exactly makes MS so special? If we start talking about that list, we will definitely need a book to be penned. However, to give a glimpse of his multi-dimensional greatness, we will bring to you five best knocks of MSD in the Indian Premier League.
- 64* versus KXIP, 2016
It was the rare patch of time when Chennai Super Kings was slapped with a ban in IPL that Dhoni switched his allegiance to Rising Pune Super Giants. Not particularly a great season for the Indian captain but this knock of his was a perfect example of why he is one of the best finishers in world cricket.
Punjab posted a mammoth total of 172 for 7 as Hashim Amla and Gurkeerat Singh blasted quickfire half-centuries with Rishi Dhawan smacking a monumental sixer in the end to cap things off.
With Saurabh Tiwary dismissed for a paltry 19, Dhoni walked in when Pune was wobbling at 79 for 3 from 12 overs. Things complicated further for the newcomers as Gurkeerat got rid of a set Usman Khwaja in the next two deliveries. Much to the dismay of the debutants, Irfan Pathan shortly followed suit as he nicked a poor stroke to Wriddhimaan Saha as Pune started teetering on the fringes of defeat at 86 for 5.
As things simply seemed to slip away from the grasp of Pune, Dhoni realized that holding back further won’t really be a plausible factor aiding them in their cause. He finally freed his arms as he smashed Axar Patel over the deep midwicket boundary for his first maximum.
He followed it up with a lovely strike towards deep fine leg to steal away another crucial three runs. That was just the beginning of the imminent tornado from the Pune skipper.
The duo of Perera and Dhoni helped Pune to reach 144 before Mohit Sharma picked up the big Sri Lankan in time to disrupt the motion for the Dhoni-led brigade. However, like the maxim goes that when the situation gets tough, the tough get going, Dhoni imbued it with life.
With 23 to win off the final over, the captain played a dot in the first ball, amplifying the tensions in the Pune ranks and in the following delivery from Axar Patel that was a million miles wide, he refused to take a run.
He clarified his reasons for not taking the run as the next ball disappeared into the stands over long-on. Patel got lucky in the following ball as Dhoni smacked a cracker towards deep cover which was brilliantly saved by Hashim Amla.
The next three balls attested to the fact that why Dhoni is exactly one of the most sublime finishers of all time as the numbers read 4, 6 and 6. With 6 needed off the final ball, Axar pitched a delivery way too full on middle and leg stump as Dhoni unwaveringly flailed his bat and consigned the cherry to the stands over the deep-midwicket boundary to steal a remarkable victory.
- 75* versus Rajasthan Royals, 2019
This was another Dhoni special that witnessed the greatness of the Indian skipper as he slowly but steadily crafted a knock so precious that left the Royals shy of the target by 8 runs.
Batting first, Chennai was left out of their wits as Archer, Kulkarni and Stokes managed to remove the top three in no time, leaving Chennai reeling at 29 for 3. Dhoni walked out in the middle and started with the initial overhaul, coupled with Suresh Raina at a slow pace. As the duo managed to push Chennai to 88 without any further slide, Unadkat struck gold as the lanky fast bowler rattled the southpaw’s timber.
That was Dhoni’s cue to open up and the man opened up in the most stunning fashion, taking Bravo by his side. His first hint of onslaught came against Archer as he used a good piece of his brain to slice the gap between the cover and a third man.
The next man to fall victim to his hard-hitting was Dhawal Kulkarni as his attempt to bowl a yorker turned into a low full-toss and Dhoni clobbered it out of the park. With Bravo gone in the penultimate over, it all boiled down to the former Indian skipper and his dalliance with some late hitting.
He took Jaydev Unadkat out for a staggering 19 runs in the final over in addition to Jadeja’s seven, thereby notching up 28 in the final over, thanks to a couple of extras from the beanpole.
Despite a brilliant start from Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur, Ben Stokes, Steven Smith and Jofra Archer managed to steady the ship and finally fell short of the target by 8 runs.
- 70* versus Royal Challengers Bangalore, 2018
With 205 on the board who would have even contemplated that Chennai was going to chase it down with two balls to spare? De Kock, De Villiers and Mandeep Singh entertained the crowds with some exotic pyrotechnics of their own as Bangalore crossed the 200 mark.
Chennai was left reeling early in the innings as Chahal and Umesh Yadav pitched in with a few gems to remove almost the entire top half of their order for cheap. Rayudu hung in there with some fantastic cricketing strokes while Dhoni walked in the middle as Chennai was left stammering at 74 for 4.
After weathering the initial storm, Dhoni started freeing his arms against the Bangalore bowlers that saw him clubbing a boundary or two in an over, thereby just opening up the possibility of another sublime knock.
The first bowler to fall in Dhoni’s line of fire was none other than Pawan Negi as he felt the heat from Dhoni’s ‘dancing down the track’ scenes.
Corey Anderson was the next victim in line as the wicketkeeper-batsman smoked the fast bowler into the stands over the long-on. Smashing Negi for two consecutive sixes in the following over, Dhoni flashed out the writing on the wall for the Challengers.
When Rayudu got out, Chennai was comfortably stationed at 175 for 5 with a set Dhoni at the crease. With 30 needed off the last two overs, Dhoni took out Mohammad Siraj for another maximum as he sliced a low full toss into the stands. With 15 to garner from the last 6 balls, it was very well in the captain’s arc.
Bravo made the affairs much more facile for the Indian hard-hitter as he clubbed Anderson for a six and a four off the first two deliveries while Dhoni dealt the telling blow as he conjured a helicopter shot to make the ball disappear into the crowd.
- 79* versus Kings XI Punjab, 2018
They say that fortune favours the brave but in this case, despite dragging Chennai extremely close to the finishing line, Dhoni failed to strike the coup de grace as they were adrift of the Punjab total by 4 runs.
Punjab totted up a blistering 197, thanks to some rock-solid performance from Rahul, Gayle, Agarwal and Yuvraj. Chennai was in hot waters as they were teetering at 56 for 3 when MS walked in.
Taking Rayudu by his side, he started ironing out the kinks as Chennai flipped the tide over. Rayudu played a perfect anchor while Dhoni went after the bowlers trading only in boundaries. As Rayudu got dismissed, Jadeja took over the responsibility of holding up the innings with Dhoni still clobbering the bowlers in all corners of the park.
Much to his dismay, the innings came to an unexpected halt as the asking rate in the last 10 balls was way too much with 35 required while all that Dhoni could do was score 30 of them. Staying unbeaten on 79, Dhoni racked up 6 boundaries and 5 over-boundaries and could only see his effort go down the drain.
- 84* versus RCB, 2019
Another valiant effort from the Indian skipper went down in flames as Chennai stumbled in the final hurdle, falling short by a solitary run against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
RCB was restricted to 161 for 7 as Chahar, Jadeja and Bravo pulled off a decent effort. Things turned upside down for the Yellow army as Dale Steyn and Umesh Yadav wreaked early havoc, ripping through the cream of Chennai’s batting. With the team tottering wildly at the face of a titanic landslide, Dhoni stepped in to start with the fightback.
Once again after stabilizing the ship with Rayudu, the Chennai captain started unfurling himself like a high-fluttering banner in the sky as he clubbed the bowlers mercilessly.
Despite putting in a staunch shift, Bangalore managed to check the runs towards the dying end as wickets consistently kept on falling.
With 2 required off the last ball, Shardul Thakur fell short of the crease and Dhoni’s redoubtable essay that saw him garnering 84 runs from 48 deliveries was another failed attempt to win a game for Chennai.