India’s former skipper, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was a three-pronged athlete who helped India win countless matches, either with his captaincy or his insane keeping flair and most importantly with his bat.
Despite starting his career as a hard-hitter who was brought in the side for raking up the scores by leaps and bounds, he evolved himself as one of the game’s best finishers of all time, chronicling a whopping 120 not outs in international cricket.
This number can be segregated into 16 Tests, not outs, 71 ODI, not outs and 33 T-20 not outs. These figures are a burning testimony to Dhoni’s finishing ability of a game.
We will look at five innings from Dhoni that established him as one of the world’s best finishers.
1. 91* versus Sri Lanka, 2011 World Cup final
India was tottering at the brink of imminent collapse as Sri Lanka had them cornered for 114 for 3. Kohli was the latest batsman to depart with 161 runs still to be amassed.
Surprising everyone, Dhoni came higher up the order instead of an in-form Yuvraj and started anchoring the innings, playing the perfect host to a belligerent Gambhir pave his way to a scintillating 97.
When Gambhir got out, India was very well stationed, thanks to a set Dhoni who slowly sneaked in with a champion’s knock, engineering India’s way to victory.
The final stand between Yuvraj and MSD saw India comfortably home with the captain smashing the final blow-off Kulasekara, staying unbeaten on 91 from 79 deliveries. This inning was an extremely special one as the timing of Dhoni’s arrival to the crease was a crucial moment of the game.
It wouldn’t have been easy for any other batsman to keep their calm and steer India home, with threats like Muralitharan and Malinga. Dhoni showcased nerves of steel to pen one of his historic knocks that were just the beginning of India’s best finisher.
2. 55* versus Australia, 2019
This was another special knock from the finisher, as India was caught in an extremely dicey situation as they had to chase a mammoth 299 and they lost Rayudu in a very precarious situation.
Dhoni walked into the crease and picked up the reins of the game with Kohli inflicting his signature onslaught and India started sailing smoothly again.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Australia staged a strong comeback as they managed to remove Kohli with India still 56 runs adrift and with 6 overs remaining.
Karthik walked in with Dhoni by his side and the two registered a brilliant partnership, that stayed witness to a stellar inning from the former Indian skipper.
Dhoni stayed unbeaten on 55, crafting India’s victory over a formidable Australia.
3. 113* versus Pakistan, 2012
Though in the losing cause, this was another remarkable knock from Dhoni that witnessed him steadying India’s ship at the hands of sheer humiliation from their arch-rivals.
India was wobbling at 29 for 5 with half their side succumbing to Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan. It was then that the Indian skipper walked in the middle alongside Raina and weathered the initial storm to stitch a painstaking partnership to steady India’s ship. After Raina got out, Dhoni fought it out until the end with Ashwin, taking India to a decent 227 for 6, with him staying unbeaten on 113 from 125 deliveries, saving India the blushes.
Pakistan cruised past India as Nasir Jamshed and Younis Khan registered valiant knocks to take the visitors home.
4. 45* versus Sri Lanka, 2017
This was another classic example of Dhoni’s finishing prowess as the hard-hitting Indian captain came to bat at a stage where India was en route to a sheer defeat.
Being reduced to 131 for 7, India stared at another humiliation as they had to chase 237 to win. Dhoni was still there and Bhuvneshwar Kumar walked into the middle.
Playing a partnership along with India’s finest fast bowler, they managed to take India to cross the line as Dhoni remained not out on 45 while Kumar registered a brilliant half-century. The importance of Dhoni’s knock was paramount as his anchoring of the innings helped Kumar fire his way to India’s victory.
5. 87* versus Australia, 2019
This was a low scoring thriller as Australia was defending a modest total of 230. India was left reeling at 113 for 3 when Richardson got rid of a set Kohli.
It was Dhoni and Kedhar Jadav who showed India the way to victory, thanks to a stunning knock from Dhoni who took his time but ensured that he hung in there to see India crossing the finishing line.
He finished his knock-on 87 from 114 deliveries that saw him striking only 6 boundaries throughout the innings.
This was an example of top-class patience from one of the best finishers in the world.