Numbers Don’t Lie – MS Dhoni is Far From Finished

If we stop expecting too much from Dhoni the finisher, we will realise his overall superiority in the Indian team.

Updated
Opinion
4 min read
File photo of MS Dhoni.
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The morning after a ragtag West Indies discontinued India’s dominance in the on-going ODI series, a video of Mahendra Singh Dhoni began doing the rounds on social media. A down in the mouth MSD is seen sitting isolated at the dugout after the loss for which the pundits made him the scapegoat.

Dhoni played the slowest ODI innings of his career, slowest half-century by an Indian in decades, and was dismissed when India still required 14 off the last seven balls. His 114-balls 54 could accommodate only a solitary boundary, not the kind of innings you would expect from a batsman whose ODI strike rate is 89, especially in a down to the wire game.

A two paced pitch could be a vindication for his tortoise paced innings, but over the years, Indians have become so habituated to Dhoni winning them games, that they don’t want to stomach the fact that their demigod is no longer the ‘finisher’ he was.

Dhoni might have lost some of his finishing prowess considering the dizzying standards he has already set for himself, but Dhoni's star is by no means a waning one. Critics may show you the highlights of his recent debacles; but can success be definite? It can never be. But can it be sustained over a period of time, yes it can be. Dhoni might have failed and these moments might be glaring, but we need to slow down before jumping the gun.

Don't write him off just yet, he deserves to be studied and as they say numbers never lie, here are a few stats that prove Dhoni still has enough fuel left in his tank.

Let Numbers Talk

From July 2015 to July 2017, Dhoni has been the fifth highest run-getter in ODIs for India, after Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan. He amassed 876 runs from the 24 innings that he played during that period, at a strike rate of 86.22.

From July 2016 to 2017, he has been the second highest run-getter for India in ODIs, only second to captain Virat Kohli. In the 14 innings that he played last year, he scored 578 runs at a strike rate of 80.61.

Out of the 578 runs, 256 came in boundaries and 322 through running between the wickets. These numbers reveal that Dhoni the batsman is far from being over just yet. The 322 runs which did not come in boundaries put a stamp on the almost 36-year-old’s fitness. He can scramble for singles and doubles as effortlessly as he can hit the biggies.

Talking about the first six months of 2017 alone, Dhoni has already scored almost 400 runs at an average of 64.33 from only nine innings, which also include a century and three fifties. These numbers are a clear-cut proof that his form is still as good as it always was.

On His Day, Dhoni is Still Menacing

MS Dhoni plays a shot during the ODI series against England earlier this year. 
MS Dhoni plays a shot during the ODI series against England earlier this year. 
(Photo: Reuters)

Just when the analyst thinks that Dhoni’s genius is slowly evanescing, the wicketkeeper-batsman springs up a surprise for them. We saw it in Mohali against New Zealand last year, when the then captain’s 122-ball 80 was instrumental to India’s win, after everyone else but Kohli failed.

We saw it again in January this year against England in Cuttack. Dhoni turned back the clock with his blistering 134 which included 10 fours and six sixes.

Most recently, his critics were again left eating humble pies when the wicketkeeper-batsman scored a 78-ball 63 against Sri Lanka in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 last month. Dhoni of the old was on show at The Oval as he hit some outstanding shots that left the bowlers powerless.

And not to forget, he just registered back to back half centuries in the on-going ODI series against West Indies. Dhoni scored a 79-ball 78 in the third ODI in his cautious attempt to make India amass a decent total, which also won him his first Man of the Match as a non-captain in ODIs. Also, with that innings, he went past Adam Gilchrist (9,410) as the second highest run-scorer among wicketkeeper-batsmen with 9,496 runs. The list is topped by Kumar Sangakkara (13341).

MS Dhoni (L) speaks to Virat Kohli (R) during a training session.
MS Dhoni (L) speaks to Virat Kohli (R) during a training session.
(Photo: AP)

When asked in the post-match presentation if he was getting better with age, the former skipper smilingly said, “it is like wine”.

His 114-ball 54 on the other hand was a brilliant show of composure from a big hitter like Dhoni, who scored at a rate of less than 50. His innings could have been built a bit more attractively, but perhaps it was just a bad day at office.

Unfortunately, for Dhoni, there is a competitor in Rishabh Pant waiting to prove his mettle. But his ability to find the gaps, to hit the biggies, to keep wickets, to mentor Kohli, and to tangibly look after the entire team makes him more than as asset for the 2019 World Cup.

If we stop expecting too much from Dhoni the finisher and match-winner, we will realise his overall superiority in the Indian team. After all, greats are not defined by the number of centuries they score or matches they win.

One example is Misbah-Ul-Haq, who scored 5,122 runs in 162 ODIs, never scored a century in his ODI career.

(Umaima Saeed is a self-confessed introvert who binges on cricket and lets her writing do the talking.)

(This admission season, The Quint got experts from CollegeDekho.com on board to answer all your college-related queries. Send us your questions at eduqueries@thequint.com .)

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