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MS Dhoni’s greatness as an ODI batsman in figures

How great MS Dhoni is as a batsman in One-Day Internationals?

Mahendra Singh Dhoni slammed his fifth ODI hundred in the first match against Pakistan © PTI

During his incredible unbeaten 113 against Pakistan at Chennai, MS Dhoni went past 7,000 runs in ODIs. Abhishek Mukherjee compares him with the giants of the 50-over format of the game.

 

Mahendra Singh Dhoni played what was arguably his most important innings in One-Day Interntionals at Chennai on Sunday. His unconquered 113 to rescued India from the depths of despair – 29 for five – to a total that gave the Indian bowlers some hope against arch-rivals Pakistan. This, however, has not been the first time that Dhoni has played a sublime innings to save his side. He also went past the 7,000 run mark in ODIs during the course of his epic knock.

Indeed, amidst all the disputes regarding whether he should be retained as the national skipper, Dhoni has been one of the giants of the game himself. Let us draw up some numbers to show how he features against the other greats of the 50-over version.

MS Dhoni’s entire career

To begin with, if we put a 7,000-run cut-off, Dhoni leads the way, averaging more than six runs per innings than Michael Clarke, the next name on the list:

Averages


Player M R HS Ave SR 100s
MS Dhoni 212 7021 183* 52.00 88.5 8
Michael Clarke 221 7278 130 45.48 78.4 7
Jacques Kallis 321 11498 139 45.26 73.0 17
Sachin Tendulkar 463 18426 200* 44.83 86.2 49
Ricky Ponting 375 13704 164 42.03 80.4 30

 

However, when we consider ODIs, the other parameter that needs to be considered is the strike rate. Here, too, Dhoni features among the top five. It should be noted that none of the batsmen above him on the list comes within 15 runs of Dhoni in terms of batting average: 

Strike rates


Player M R HS Ave SR 100s
Shahid Afridi 349 7075 124 23.34 113.8 6
Virender Sehwag 250 8242 219 35.07 104.5 15
Adam Gilchrist 287 9619 172 35.89 96.9 16
Sanath Jayasuriya 445 13430 189 32.36 91.2 28
MS Dhoni 212 7021 183* 52.00 88.5 8

 

We can, of course, combine the two parameters to obtain a combined number. We will use a harmonic mean to combine them:

Formula = 2 / (1/Average) + (1/Strike rate). 

Formula:


Player M  Runs HS  Ave  SR 100s  Formula
MS Dhoni 212 7021 183* 52.00 88.5 8 65.5
Sachin Tendulkar 463 18426 200* 44.83 86.2 49 59.0
Michael Clarke 221 7278 130 45.48 78.4 7 57.6
Jacques Kallis 321 11498 139 45.26 73.0 17 55.9
Ricky Ponting 375 13704 164 42.03 80.4 30 55.2

 

MS Dhoni as captain

However criticised Dhoni’s captaincy might have been in recent times, it cannot be argued that his performances as a captain are next to none in the 50-over format. Once again, we can see a 15-run per innings lead over the next batsman on the list, Ricky Ponting, if we put a 3,000-run cut-off:

Averages


Player M R HS Ave SR 100s
MS Dhoni 128 4544 124 57.51 84.7 5
Ricky Ponting 230 8497 164 42.91 83.4 22
Mohammad Azharuddin 174 5239 153* 39.39 78.5 4
Graeme Smith 150 5416 141 38.96 83.1 8
Viv Richards 105 3105 181 38.81 92.1 3

 

In terms of strike rates, too, Dhoni is third on the all-time list. Two giants of the game come ahead of him, but both of them are almost 19 runs short of Dhoni in terms of batting average: 

Strike rates 


Player M R HS Ave SR 100s
Viv Richards 105 3105 181 38.81 92.1 3
Sanath Jayasuriya 118 4377 189 38.73 88.1 10
MS Dhoni 128 4544 124 57.51 84.7 5
Brian Lara 125 3725 156 35.81 84.0 5
Ricky Ponting 230 8497 164 42.91 83.4 22

 

Once again we will try to combine the two numbers, and once again we will find that Dhoni has a significant lead on the next cluster of batsmen:


Player M Runs HS Ave SR 100 Formula
MS Dhoni 128 4544 124 57.51 84.7 5 68.5
Ricky Ponting 230 8497 164 42.91 83.4 22 56.7
Viv Richards 105 3105 181 38.81 92.1 3 54.6
Sanath Jayasuriya 118 4377 189 38.73 88.1 10 53.8
Graeme Smith 150 5416 141 38.96 83.1 8 53.0

 

MS Dhoni as wicket-keeper

ODIs have changed the role of the wicket-keeper significantly over the past quarter of a century or so. Some of them have opened the batting, while some others have played crucial roles down the order. With a 3,000-run cut-off, Dhoni is once again way clear of his next competitor, Kumar Sangakkara:

Averages


Player M R HS Ave SR 100s
MS Dhoni 212 7021 183* 52.00 88.5 8
Kumar Sangakkara 293 10022 138* 40.24 76.9 12
Adam Gilchrist 282 9410 172 35.64 96.9 16
Andy Flower 186 5845 145 34.58 73.7 4
Alec Stewart 138 4017 116 33.47 70.1 4

 
Despite the fact that Dhoni has had to play a pivotal role in India’s ODI successes, he has been able to maintain a healthy strike rate. The explosive Adam Gilchrist leads the way, but he averages significantly less than Dhoni, who is right up there with the best:

Strike rates


Player M R HS Ave SR 100s
Adam Gilchrist 282 9410 172 35.64 96.9 16
Brendon McCullum 178 3858 131 30.37 89.4 3
MS Dhoni 212 7021 183* 52.00 88.5 8
Mark Boucher 294 4680 147* 28.71 84.9 1
Moin Khan 211 3100 72* 22.96 82.5 0

 

As usual, if we combine the two parameters, Dhoni stays clear of the Gilchrist, the second man on the list:

Formula:


Player M Runs HS Ave SR 100s Formula
MS Dhoni 212 7,021 183* 52.00 88.5 8 65.5
Kumar Sangakkara 293 10,022 138* 40.24 76.9 12 52.8
Adam Gilchrist 282 9,410 172 35.64 96.9 16 52.1
Andy Flower 186 5,845 145 34.58 73.7 4 47.1
Brendon McCullum 178 3,858 131 30.37 89.4 3 45.3

 

MS Dhoni in wins

Dhoni has also played a pivotal role in India’s ODI success stories, culminating in a World Cup victory last year. His performances have put him 10 runs ahead of another great match-winner in the history of ODIs – Michael Bevan: 

Averages


Player M R HS Ave SR 100s
MS Dhoni 119 4,441 183* 76.56 97.7 6
Michael Bevan 155 4,502 107 65.24 75.7 5
Brian Lara 139 6,553 169 61.82 86.3 16
Viv Richards 132 5,129 189* 56.98 93.0 11
Sachin Tendulkar 234 11,157 200* 56.63 90.3 33

 
Along with a healthy average, Dhoni has also maintained a healthy strike-rate in victories. Other than him, the four batsmen in the top five are all blasters, and their averages are nowhere remotely close to Dhoni’s:

Strike rates:


Player M R HS Ave SR 100s
Shahid Afridi 195 4599 124 29.67 118.8 5
Virender Sehwag 133 5748 219 46.35 109.5 14
Adam Gilchrist 202 7657 172 41.16 99.3 16
MS Dhoni 119 4441 183* 76.56 97.7 6
Andrew Symonds 152 4240 156 47.64 96.9 6

 
 
Once again, if the lists are combined, the bridge between Dhoni and the rest is quite substantial:
 
Formula:


Player M Runs HS Ave SR 100s Formula
MS Dhoni 119 4441 183* 76.56 97.7 6 85.9
Brian Lara 139 6553 169 61.82 86.3 16 72.0
Viv Richards 132 5129 189* 56.98 93.0 11 70.7
Michael Bevan 155 4502 107 65.24 75.7 5 70.1
Sachin Tendulkar 234 11157 200* 56.63 90.3 33 69.6

 

MS Dhoni in successful chases

In spite of Dhoni’s supremacy in all the lists, what really separates Dhoni from the rest are his performances in successful chases. If we put a 2,000-run cut-off, Dhoni is so ahead of the rest in the world that the gap is almost Bradmanesque: the others are not even comparable: 

Averages:


Player M R HS Ave SR 100s
MS Dhoni 66 2028 183* 101.40 89.7 2
Arjuna Ranatunga 62 2007 131* 69.20 81.8 1
Brian Lara 83 3498 153 68.58 83.2 7
Mohammad Yousuf 64 2177 108* 65.96 67.0 2
Inzamam-ul-Haq 96 2778 118* 63.13 77.5 3

 

Even though most of Dhoni’s efforts in successful chases have involved hard-fought recoveries from tight corners and even shepherding the tail, he has managed to make it to the elite list; and despite the fact that he just misses out being in the top five, he is significantly ahead in terms of the others above him on the list:

Strike rates:


Player M R HS Ave SR 100s
Virender Sehwag 73 2664 126 40.98 106.0 6
Adam Gilchrist 95 3750 131 46.87 102.8 8
Sanath Jayasuriya 107 3633 152 39.92 97.0 9
Chris Gayle 56 2744 133* 60.97 90.9 7
Sachin Tendulkar 127 5490 134 55.45 90.1 14
MS Dhoni 66 2028 183* 101.40 89.7 2

 
As usual, if the lists are combined, he has such a significant margin ahead of the others that they seem almost pale when put into perspective:

Formula:


Player M Runs HS Ave SR 100s Formula
MS Dhoni 66 2028 183* 101.40 89.7 2 95.2
Brian Lara 83 3498 153 68.58 83.2 7 75.2
Arjuna Ranatunga 62 2007 131* 69.20 81.8 1 75.0
Chris Gayle 56 2744 133* 60.97 90.9 7 73.0
Saeed Anwar 61 2837 131 63.04 83.6 9 71.9

* Reasons for choosing a harmonic mean:An arithmetic mean, (Average + Strike rate)/2 would have meant adding up two numbers with different denominators (number of times dismissed and number of balls faced), albeit with the same numerator.

A geometric mean, (Average * Strike rate)1/2 would not have made sense for the similar reason.

However, in case of a harmonic mean, we add numbers with the same denominator (number of runs scored), which is more comprehensible and is likely to provide a more accurate measure of the greatness of the batsman.
 
(A hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobiac by his own admission, Abhishek Mukherjee is a statistical analyst based in Kolkata, India. He typically looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – not necessarily as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the game with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a rather steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers the sport has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks and googlies in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in.)

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