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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

MS Dhoni’s secret recipe behind recent success Down Under revealed

While Dhoni has been seen using bats with the modified shape since last year’s Asia Cup, the results have started coming now and the old bat swing is also back.

cricket Updated: Feb 13, 2019 13:14 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
MS Dhoni plays a shot during the T20I against New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland.
MS Dhoni plays a shot during the T20I against New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland.(AP)

Lots of things have started to click for Mahendra Singh Dhoni since the start of the tour Down Under. One reason appears to be the modification made to his bat, specifically the toe end of the blade.

Half-centuries (51, 55*, 87*) in the three one-dayers in Australia gave him the Man of the Series award and his confidence was back; an unbeaten 48 in the ODI versus New Zealand at Mount Maunganui, and 39 and 20 not out in the two T20 games were added proof he is getting his touch back.

When Dhoni and heir apparent Rishabh Pant walked off Eden Park bats tucked under their arms the difference in their weapons was glaring. The shape of the wood in their possession was distinctly different in how the bats tailed off.

Pant’s bat had the regular flat bottom like those used by the rest of the stars — Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. The bottom of Dhoni’s blade though was more round.

While the man himself couldn’t be reached, talking to people who have made his bats earlier gave an insight into the new requirements of the champion player.

“He has made the modification to suit his areas of strength and to counter the areas in which bowlers have been targeting him,” said a source close to his management team.

Dhoni uses bats with the Spartan brand, and though he has been seen using bats with the modified shape since last year’s Asia Cup in the UAE, the results have started coming on this tour where the bottom has been more rounded, and the old bat swing is also back.

“Basically, it is more wood at the bottom and back of the bat. Earlier, it was mainly about the sweet spot. The basic idea is to have more wood behind the ball in your preferred shots. More wood at the bottom will help in elevation and generate more power.

“When your game is set, bowlers come up with a plan to counter and the batsman has to get a new plan. Or, it could be to play a particular shot better,” he said.

Leading bat manufacturers BAS (Beat All Sports), who earlier helped Dhoni with his bats, analysed it, and saw it as a modification to suit the conditions.

“It differs from wicket to wicket, country to country. In India they use different bats, prefer heavier (bats) because the ball comes slower on the slow wickets; on faster wickets, they prefer lighter blades for better timing. Dhoni’s bat weighs around 1150gms,” says BAS partner Ashwini Kohli, who has earlier made bats for Dhoni. He prefers 1250gm bats in India, he said.

A lot of 8-10 bats have been made according to Dhoni’s specifications and sent to him. At the moment, Dhoni is the only batsman experimenting with circular bat toes. Given the positive results, it is with this new weapon that India’s double World Cup-winning skipper will head into the final big event of his career – the World Cup. If he succeeds at the mega event, one can be sure we will have more batsmen trying the new shape.

First Published: Feb 12, 2019 17:19 IST