Indian wicketkeeper MS Dhoni, without a shadow of a doubt, is the best finisher that the limited overs game has ever seen.
MS Dhoni, born on July 7, 1981, is unarguably the finest finisher the world has seen. Though Michael Bevan made a name as a clinical finisher in the bygone past, Dhoni revolutionised the approach to chasing and has surpassed the Australian with his remarkable feats.
The task of picking just 10 was an extremely difficult one. But here we are recollecting some of the MSD’s tremendous finishes ever on his birthday.
#1 The biggest of all – 91* v Sri Lanka in Mumbai, India (2 April, 2011)
There is not a shred of skepticism that Dhoni’s 91* in the 2011 ICC World Cup final is captain cool’s greatest innings ever.
In the biggest match of his international career, Dhoni boldly decided to promote himself above Yuvraj Singh, and it paid off wonderfully as his 91* off just 79 deliveries helped India win ICC World Cup after 28 years.
Dhoni smashing Kulasekara for a maximum to finish things off will be a memory that will be remembered by every Indian fan.
#2 A warning to all the teams – 183* vs Sri Lanka at Jaipur, 3rd ODI, 2005
Dhoni introduced himself to the cricketing world as a destructive player, with his 183* against Sri Lanka in an ODI at Jaipur in 2005, The then 25-year-old was promoted to No.3, walked out to bat at the score of 7/1 after the loss of Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket.
The next highest score in the innings was Virender Sehwag’s 39 gives us a fair idea of how Dhoni carried India on his back. India won by 6-wickets with almost 4 overs to spare.
The 183 not out off 145 balls was also the highest score in a successful run-chase until 2011.
#3 A sign of things to come – 67 vs Zimbabwe at Harare, Tri-series, 2005
Dhoni’s first fifty in a successful run-chase came in troublesome circumstances. This innings has lost its place in Dhoni’s superior list of deeds but deserves a mention. India strumbled at 91/5, Dhoni’s knock was largely controlled as he got to his fifty in 54 balls. He went on to get 67 not out and sealed the game with a six.
#4 Winning all the praises – 72* v Pakistan in Lahore, Pakistan (13 February 2006)
India had a target of 289 from 50 overs, India’s score was 5/190 when the then long-haired Dhoni joined Yuvraj at the crease. Needing 99 from the 15 overs, Dhoni started smashing boundaries immediately and tilted the match in India’s way in no time. Putting on an unbeaten partnership of 102 in 13 overs with Yuvraj (79 from 87 deliveries), he finished not out on 72 off just 46 balls to give India a 2-1 series lead
He looked impregnable as he reached his fifty in 35 balls.
Then Pakistan president Parvez Musharraf praised Dhoni and said, “I saw a placard asking you to have a haircut. But, if you were to take my opinion, you look good in this haircut.”
#5 Redemption time – 91* v Bangladesh in Mirpur, Bangladesh (10 May 2007)
The Indian team had knocked out of the 2007 ICC World Cup in the group stages and
Dhoni had to face the fans’ fury after that defeat, with a group attacking his house under construction in Ranchi.
India faced the possibility of another humiliation in the first ODI when they were reduced to 144/5 in the 29th over, chasing 251 in 47.
Dhoni, who had been promoted to No.3, struck a calm and composed 91* from 106 balls and took India to a 5-wicket victory thereby preventing another upset.
#6 An encore of Lahore – 77 not out vs Pakistan at Karachi, 5th ODI, 2006
By the end of this match, the Pakistani bowlers were absolutely sick of watching Dhoni in action as he slaughtered them to all parts of the ground.
Dhoni struck a marvelous 77 off 56 balls, containing 6 fours and 4 sixes, to help India chase down a target of 287 with 3 overs to spare.
Dhoni struck four sixes in the span of two overs to take India home with 19 balls to spare.
#7 A six in the last over – 46 not out vs West Indies at St Lucia, 3rd ODI, 2009
Chasing a D/L target of 195 from 27 overs against West Indies, India were 84/1 in 12 overs and needed another 111 runs from 14.5 overs at a challenging run-rate of 7.40. Dhoni walked in at No. 3 and took charge of the situation.
It boiled down to the last over, with 11 needed.
Dhoni smashed Jerome Taylor for a huge six, which effectively won India the game. The last four runs were knocked off with ease. Dhoni’s 46 not out off 34 balls not only awarded India a 6-wicket victory but also a 2-1 series win.
#8 Stunned the Lankans – 45* v Sri Lanka at Port of Spain, Trinidad (11 July 2013)
On a tough wicket at the Queens Park Oval, India were chasing 202 to win the tri-series final
With 17 needed off two overs, the last man Ishant Sharma played out the penultimate, leaving Dhoni with 15 off the last
Dhoni missed the first one, but smashed the next ball high over long-off for a six. The next ball flew over point for a four and the match was sealed with a bullet over long-off. The Zen-like Dhoni merely smiled as his teammates were over-the moon!
Dhoni smashed the next 3 balls for 6, 4 and 6 respectively to hand India one of their most memorable ODI wins in recent times.
#9 Saving it for the last – 44 not out vs Australia at Adelaide, Tri-series, 2012
India should have perhaps won this Commonwealth Bank (CB) series game against Australia a lot more comfortably than they ended up doing; they needed just 92 runs from 95 deliveries when Gautam Gambhir was dismissed for 92.
what made this innings one of his exceptional was the fact that India needed 12 runs off 4 balls when Dhoni got back on strike in the final over.
He then struck a gigantic 112 metres six off the bowling of Clint McKay, who was clearly feeling the pressure of bowling to Dhoni McKay pitched the ball on a decent length and Dhoni smashed it with all his energy over long-on
With six needed off three, Dhoni knocked them off with two balls to spare, thanks to a no-ball.
#10 Saving India the blushes –58* v Sri Lanka at Adelaide Oval, Australia (14 February 2012)
There have been very few occasions with MS Dhoni being not out at the end of an unsuccessful Indian run-chase in ODI cricket. This was one of those few occasions as the team only managed a tie,
Needing a moderate 237 for victory, India were 4/118 when Dhoni joined Gautam Gambhir in the middle.
A flurry of wickets at the other end followed, which meant that India needed 9 to win off the last over with 2 wickets in hand.
Getting 9 off 6 balls is never easy and especially when Malinga is running into bowl. Unable to hit a boundary or six off the first 5 balls of the over, India now needed 4 to win off the final delivery, but, thankfully, Dhoni was on strike. He managed to miscue a full and wide delivery from Malinga over extra cover for 3 runs to finish on 58 off 69 balls and end the match in a tie.
If ever there will be a book on cricket, the finishing chapter will be written by Dhoni.