Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni (L) and his teammates celebrate their victory against Mumbai Indians during the IPL Twenty20 Eliminator match at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. AFP Photo/Manjunath Kiran
If there's one shot that defines MS Dhoni, it's the Helicopter Shot. A stroke that's more about bottom-hand and powerful wrists than anything you will find in the coaches' manual. When Dhoni perfected this shot in his formative years of playing tennis-ball cricket, the aim was to develop a stroke that could negate the yorker.
As the years have passed, Dhoni has started using the shot sparingly. After hitting a 112-yard six, the longest in the IPL this season, beyond the roof of the Chinnaswamy Stadium in a more traditional manner on Wednesday, one can understand his apprehension over using a shot which is more flashy than percentage.
As the innings was winding down, however, the CSK skipper executed his patented shot to perfection against the bowler who delivers the most toe-crushing yorkers in the modern game - Lasith Malinga.
The Sri Lankan pitched one right up in the block hole, Dhoni flicked his wrists and swivelled his arms in the follow through to send the ball over mid-wicket for a maximum.
Innovative shots such as this propelled Chennai from a slow start to a rousing finish which saw them post a competitive 187/5, after they were trudging along at 47/2 at the end of the ninth over. A total that was beyond Mumbai, who were dismissed for 149/9.
Mumbai were going along at 47/0, before their chase went haywire from the final ball of the fifth over. Sachin Tendulkar cut one to backward point, his partner Dwayne Smith took off for a quick single without realising that Ravindra Jadeja had dived full length and collected the ball. Smith almost reached the batsman's end, but Tendulkar was still rooted to the crease, when Jadeja threw the ball to the non-striker's end. With one of the batsmen sure to be run out, Tendulkar stepped out of his crease and sacrificed his wicket, an acknowledgement of the early fireworks provided by Smith.
However, an over later, Smith was also back in the pavilion. From there on, the Mumbai batsman had no answer to CSK's bowlers and a spirited fielding performance to eventually crumble to an 38-run defeat. Earlier, Mike Hussey and S Badrinath went about restoring the innings, cautiously at first, after CSK were rocked by two wickets in two balls by Dhawal Kulkarni in the second over.
The duo shed their cautious approach after the first strategic timeout, taken in the ninth over. Thirty three runs off the next two overs launched the platform for a rollicking finish. After a 94-run third wicket stand, Badrinath perished for 47. This brought Dhoni to the crease and the India skipper gave a sign of things to come with a four off the first ball he faced.