Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s innings of 139 not out against Australia in the third One-Day International (ODI) at Mohali was yet another proof of his mastery in crisis situations. India were in a spot of bother at 154 for six, but Dhoni’s planned innings helped them post 303. This isn’t the first time Dhoni has essayed such a knock and in fact, five of his previous hundreds have similar characteristics. Nishad Pai Vaidya examines the pattern to Dhoni’s big knocks in ODIs.
While Ishant Sharma’s appalling over stole all the limelight, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s magnificent ton was pushed into oblivion. But, there is no denying the mastery with which Dhoni executed the innings and took India to a good score. Walking in at 76 for four, he worked it around and was building a platform, only to see his team slide to 154 for six with 18 overs to go. Dhoni then took on the bowling single-handedly. At the start of the 41st over, India were 202 for six, with Dhoni on 60 off 87 balls. What followed was carnage!
From the man who battered the Pakistan attack on his way to 148 in 2005, Dhoni has come a long way and adjusted his batting to the needs of his responsibility. Earlier, he was more of a dasher and a fearless batsman eyeing the boundaries. However, once he was appointed the captain in 2007, a sense of responsibility set in and added that grafting element to his game. When compared to his explosive 148 against Pakistan and the thrilling 183 not out against Sri Lanka in 2005, his other tons have been relatively more sedate and he has taken the mantle of guiding the innings. Of course, once he got his eye in, he then bludgeoned it all over the park. There is a set blueprint to his big scores — a measured start followed by a period of consolidation and then a late assault.
Here is a look at some of Dhoni’s tons which have come in tough circumstances:
1. 139 not out (97 balls, 15×4, 5×6) vs Africa XI, Chennai, 2007
This innings came for the Asia XI against Africa XI at the Afro-Asia Cup. Although Dhoni was still the aggressive batsman, this innings showed that he was ready to mature. He entered the stage when Asia XI were 72 for five in the 17th over and constructed a mammoth 218-run partnership with Mahela Jayawardene. It took Dhoni 56 balls to get to his 50 and then he simply went berserk. Smashing the ball around, he amassed the next 89 runs in only 31 balls. In the end, he finished with 139 off 97 balls with 15 fours and five sixes. Asia XI raced to 331 — a target that proved too much for the opposition.
2. 124 (107 balls, 9×4, 3×6) vs Australia, Nagpur, 2009
Ricky Ponting brought his formidable one-day side to India in 2009 and many felt they would win the contest hands down. However, India missed a victory by a narrow margin in the first ODI and that gave them confidence heading into the second at Nagpur. Australia had a strong bowling attack in Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus. India were 97 for three in the 16th over and needed stability when Dhoni walked in. Gautam Gambhir and Dhoni rallied India and took them past 200 without further damage. Dhoni moved past his fifty at a decent pace and warmed up for the final assault. At the end of 40 overs, India were 246 for four and Dhoni was unbeaten 70 off 80 balls. It was then that he charged to the bowlers and effortlessly launched them into the stands. His last 54 runs came off 27 balls as he struck five fours and three maximums in that interval. India posted 354 on the board and Australia never got close.
3. 107 (111 balls, 8×4, 2×6) vs Sri Lanka, Nagpur, 2009
A couple of months after that knock against Australia, Dhoni essayed another responsible innings to help India post a good total. It was almost a similar setting as he walked in at 81 for three in the 17th over and batted responsibly to build a platform. He started off by knocking it around and moved to 50 in 70 balls. As the slog overs approached, Dhoni took the long handle and charged to the Sri Lankan spinners. By his standards, the assault was more measured as his last 57 runs came off 41 balls. His knock helped India move past 300, but it wasn’t enough on the day.
4. 101 not out (107 balls, 9×4) vs Bangladesh, Mirpur, 2010
After Indian bowlers had conceded 296, the batting stuttered at the start as they were 51 for three in the ninth over. In walked Dhoni and took control of proceedings with Virat Kohli. This innings is of great importance as India were at risk of being embarrassed by Bangladesh. But, Captain Cool eased all those concerns with a steady knock and stayed right through the innings to ensure an Indian victory with 15 balls to spare.
5. 113 (125 balls, 7×4, 3×6) not out vs Pakistan, Chennai, 2012
The Pakistan pace battery used the early bite at Chennai to snare the top five in no time. India were staring down the barrel at 29 for five in the 10th over and Dhoni had a monumental task before him. In those testing circumstances, Dhoni crawled to 30 off 72 balls. With Ashwin’s support and about 13 overs to go, he started taking calculated risks. In one of the overs at the death, Mohammad Irfan was hit for 21 runs as Dhoni also recorded his 7000th ODI run. Off his last 53 balls, Dhoni hit 83. Under the testing Chennai conditions and against the arch-rivals, this was a great effort as it came in a pressure-cooker situation. From 29 for five to 227 in 50 overs, India had done remarkably well. However, Pakistan won the game with a minor hiccup here and there.