What makes Dhoni the best finisher in ODIs
He may be under pressure as a captain, but as finisher, lower down the batting order, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is considered one of the best in ODI cricket.
There is compelling evidence by way of figures and comparison that Dhoni is a class finisher. Add to this the mix of 189 catches, 63 stumpings, countless run-outs and captaincy to boot.
Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene was left shaking his head in disbelief on Tuesday night when Dhoni snatched a tie.
"One inch here and there and a guy like Dhoni could take you apart. He is a great finisher; he is cool and calm and backs himself. He is a strong character."Figures present the strongest claim in support. Dhoni has been unbeaten in 30 of India's 49 successful chases and scored runs at an average of 104.89 in them. The best in the business -- Michael Bevan, Lance Klusener, Abdul Razzaq and Jonty Rhodes -- are nowhere close.
In 200 matches, Dhoni unbeaten 50 times
In 200 matches, Dhoni was unbeaten 50 times, or in every fourth innings of his career. With 44 fifties and seven centuries, he scores at least a half-century in every four innings.
He averages 51.41 for his 6632 runs, with a strike rate of 88.32.
Bevan has a better average -- 53.58 -- but his strike rate of 74.16 lets him down.
Yuvraj Singh has a similar strike rate -- 87.60 - but, then, his average of 37.62 is nowhere near.
Australia captain Michael Clarke was left ruing his team's fate after Dhoni chased down the 13 runs required in the final over on Sunday.
"Dhoni is a class player. His statistics show it. He is a very good striker of the ball and you saw that in the last over with that six he hit off McKay," said Clarke.
Indeed, no task in One-day cricket is as difficult as that of a finisher. The player has to hit big, yet be capable of manoeuvring the field with deft placements. He has to be an excellent judge of a run and have the speed to convert a single into a brace.
Dhoni has worked out a method
Most of the time, the run-rate is climbing, the best bowlers are back in operation and the field is strategically placed. There is frustration when the lower-half isn't able to rotate the strike. Risk is ever present.
On Tuesday, in the tri-series match at the Adelaide Oval, he directed his partner, Ravi Ashwin, to square up to the threat of a yorker from Lasith Malinga.
"Malinga has a yorker and a very good slower one which he disguises very well. It's difficult for the lower order to pick him up consistently. All I said (to Ashwin) was to wait for the ball but don't plan for a yorker. If you see it, then react to it."
"Basically you keep the mind blank. For example, Malinga can bowl yorkers at will. It's important to be blank and back yourself to hit those for runs. You see the ball and look to hit it," Dhoni said.
Dhoni has donned many hats
When he was barely 10 months into international cricket, Dhoni smashed 183 off 145 balls, including 15 fours and 10 sixes, against Sri Lanka in Jaipur in 2005.
His early flamboyance has given way to nudges and pushes and big hits are rare -- he has only hit two sixes in the present series -- yet his strike-rate doesn't suffer by way of comparison.
Men like Adam Gilchrist (96.95), Viv Richards (90.20) and Kapil Dev (95.07) have better strike-rates than Dhoni. A few, like Sachin Tendulkar (18,176), Sanath Jayasuriya (13,430) and Ricky Ponting (13,695), will always remain out of his reach by way of runs.But it's difficult to think if these legends could have donned as many hats as Dhoni does -- those of batsman, 'keeper, captain and finisher -- and done as well!