MS Dhoni shows glimpses of a master finisher in 2nd India-South Africa T20
Amidst plenty of doubts over whether he could still finish games or provide that late fillip he was known for, MS Dhoni showed that he is still India’s best bet in that role. (India vs South Africa, 2nd T20 - highlights)
The former India skipper had struggled in the ODIs, partly because India’s struggling middle order put the onus and therefore pressure on him to ensure that they reach a challenging total. Dhoni had been sedate in his approach and sometimes failed.
He had been earlier tried in the middle order to build innings but clearly his forte has been finishing off games in the lower-middle order where he was eventually brought back.
On Wednesday, with India struggling at 90 for four, Dhoni joined Manish Pandey in the middle. This was always going to be a crucial match for him. His lackluster show – without sixes and fours, in the latter overs in ODIs had been covered up by good bowling by the Indian spinners and inept batting by the South Africans. This was the first time in the series that the Proteas had got rid of India’s top order cheaply.
Dhoni delivered. He first played himself in as Manish Pandey went about scoring the runs. Pandey in a way took the pressure off Dhoni.
However, once he got his feet in, the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman began to play his shots and got particularly severe on Dane Paterson in the last over. While there had been little doubts over his wicketkeeping skills, there were some creeping about his batting.
For the first 24 runs, he used 18 deliveries helped by a six which he hit dancing down the wicket. Apart from that six, he was alert to taking singles and doubles and allowing Pandey to discover ways of scoring quickly.
But in the last two overs, he opened up, taking 11 runs off Chris Morris, with a six and a four and then ripping Paterson apart by taking 17 runs.