Before the start of the World Cup, Sourav Ganguly had said that for India to do well in the tournament, Mahendra Singh Dhoni will have to do well with the bat. Dhoni had scored all of 70 runs in the three innings he got to bat during the tri-series in Australia, averaging 23.33. Coupled with Virat Kohli’s short bad patch, it had affected the balance of the team.
India had developed a reputation as good chasers in the one-day format, riding on the performances of Kohli, Suresh Raina and Dhoni.
So Dhoni’s 51-run unbeaten partnership with R Ashwin to guide India past West Indies at Perth, where the skipper was not out on 45, was something India needed badly. The unbeaten 196-run stand between him and Raina on Saturday to take India past Zimbabwe only emphasised that the skipper has got his touch back.
It’s been quite a while since his fans saw the skipper’s trademark helicopter shot. But hitting a six to bring up the winning runs, the ninth time he has done it, including the final shot in the 2011 World Cup, only showed that his confidence was right there.
A destructive batsman himself, Zimbabwe skipper Brendan Taylor said: “It was difficult for me today (to keep Dhoni quiet) and it’s been difficult for many captains. He hits the ball 360 degrees, so it’s hard to put fielders and restrict him.
It’s just his composure and mindset. He’s done it so many times now I think it’s his second nature.”
Breaking it down
For Dhoni though the key to successful chases are two-fold. The first part is to break the total down to small targets, keep achieving and revising that. The second is the difference between the runs required vis a vis the balls left.
“It’s our theory. If you are matching that, you are in a good position. And then you have to see which bowlers are supposed to bowl.
“If you have a shorter end, which bowler is bowling well, who you can target, all of those things play a part. It sounds very complex, but when you are in those circumstances, pretty often it comes naturally. It’s just that you have to communicate well with the other batsmen. You fix targets for the next two or three overs and you keep going.”