Dhoni the Finisher is back and how!

Last Updated: Mon, May 14, 2018 12:08 hrs
MS Dhoni has been at his best in the IPL and that is indeed good news for Team India

Write him off all you want but Mahendra Singh Dhoni the finisher is showing no signs of being finished.

It's true, the last two seasons for club or country haven't been his best and for someone who made quite a reputation for the big hits, it seemed like his six-hitting ability was on the wane as he moved to the wrong side of 35.

But Dhoni the batsman has been a whole different beast in IPL 2018. Having returned to captain Chennai Super Kings who were back from a two-year suspension, the 36-year-old looks to have found his groove.

After 12 innings, he averages more than anyone else this season and his strike rate is among the top five in the tournament.

His knock of 79* against Kings XI Punjab is also his highest-ever score in 11 seasons of the IPL. He is striking the ball exceptionally well and seems to be enjoying his time in the middle.

So how has Dhoni turned it around?

 

Player

Innings

Not outs

Runs

Highest

Average

Strike rate

MS Dhoni

12

8

413

79*

103.25

162.59

 

The statistics cannot lie. This season, he has already hit three fifties which is more than what he managed in the last two seasons combined.

His 29 sixes are also more than what he managed in the last two seasons with Rising Supergiants Pune. In facy, only Rishabh Pant (31) has hit more sixes this season.

His average is the highest it has ever been in an IPL season and so is his strike rate. He has already scored more runs than he did in the last four seasons.

In 11 seasons, he managed more than 400 runs just twice and he's already crossed 400 this season, despite having played just 12 matches.

So what is the secret to Dhoni's success? How has he rediscovered his mojo just two months shy of turning 37 so much so that he's back to being the brute force who was regarded as the best finisher cricket has ever seen?

Year

Matches

Not outs

Runs

Highest

Average

Strike rate

2018

12

8

413

79*

103.25

162.59

2017

16

4

290

61*

26.36

116.00

2016

14

5

284

64*

40.57

135.23

2015

17

5

372

53

31.00

121.96

2014

16

10

371

57*

74.20

148.40

2013

18

5

461

67*

41.90

162.89

2012

19

5

358

51*

29.83

128.77

2011

16

4

392

70*

43.55

158.70

2010

13

2

287

66*

31.88

136.66

2009

14

5

332

58

41.50

127.20

2008

16

4

414

65

41.40

133.54


We can discuss statistics and data all day long but Dhoni destroying opposition bowlers remains a sight to behold. The last two seasons were ridden with poor form and injury and the wicket-keeper batsman seemed to doubt himself.

For all his big hitting, he has always depended heavily on singles and twos and therefore the number of balls between boundaries was always increasing.

This season however he has hardly taken any time to settle and launches himself the moment he is at the crease. But it is not all hit and miss, he has remained not out on 8 of the 12 innings so far, yet another tournament record this season.

While he continues to shuffle his position in the batting order depending on the situation, he regularly promotes himself ahead of big hitters like Dwayne Bravo and Sam Billings.

By his own confession, knowing that he has explosive batsmen coming in after him, he is able to bat freely and 'have fun'. Another problem he faced while coming lower down the order was not knowing when to start hitting big.

When he comes out to bat earlier, he is able to start hitting right away and that's what he has been doing to great affect this season.

And it's also about the variety of shots. A case in point is the 13-run victory over Delhi Daredevils. During his assault with the bat, he smashed Avesh Khan for a mammoth six that travelled 108 metres.

In the same innings, Trent Boult bowled a short-pitch delivery that was going away from Dhoni but he nonchalantly walked across and pulled it for a six. At just 72 metres, it is one of the flattest sixes you're likely to see all season.

The variety and the tenacity in those two shots is ample proof that the Dhoni we're all in awe of is well and truly back. And the way he and his team have been playing this season, a playoff berth was confirmed.

Which means Dhoni is likely to play another three matches at the very least. And the way he has been going about his season that means he will break many more records.

With the season reaching its business end, that bodes well for CSK and with the 2019 World Cup less than a year away, the reincarnated Dhoni is good news for Team India as well!

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