MS Dhoni: Great finisher in ODIs but a mixed bag in T20 cricket
MS Dhoni has recently had a string of low scores in Twenty20 Internationals, prompting many to question his place in the current Indian cricket team. Hindustan Times finds out that a slight tinkering with his batting order could actually benefit Dhoni.Updated: Nov 12, 2017 14:02 IST
The good times for Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team continue after they won the limited-overs series versus New Zealand on Tuesday. However, there is a thorny issue that has split the Indian cricket public. It is MS Dhoni and his role in the Indian team in Twenty20 Internationals.
Dhoni, the former Indian skipper, has struggled for consistency in Twenty20 Internationals. During the match in Rajkot, Dhoni struggled to score at a good pace. Following the 40-run defeat, questions were raised about Dhoni’s ability with the bat.
Former skipper Sourav Ganguly said India’s team management needed to discuss Dhoni’s role. Virender Sehwag added that Dhoni should start aggressively from ball one. Ajit Agarkar and VVS Laxman said India must look for options other than Dhoni in this format but Sunil Gavaskar has called for patience.
Virat Kohli, following the series win in Thiruvanathapuram, backed Dhoni to the hilt. “I don’t understand why people are pointing him out. The guy is fit, he is passing all the tests. He is contributing to the team in every tactical way on the field,” Kohli said.
The situation involving Dhoni’s contribution in Twenty20 Internationals is complicated. However, when one looks at the statistics, it dispels certain notions and it strengthens some facts.
Improving with time
MS Dhoni’s Twenty20 career is a strange story. In 10 editions of the Indian Premier League, he has over 3561 runs at an average of 37 and strike rate of 136.75. The former skipper became the finisher par excellence for Chennai Super Kings and Rising Pune Supergiant. However, his Twenty20 International career is a different story.
In 83 games, he averages 35 but his strike rate is a 123.41, slightly below his IPL strike rate. With just one fifty, Dhoni’s international career is slightly underwhelming.
There has been a transformation in the way Dhoni has gone about his batting. The chart is an indication of how Dhoni’s strike-rate has evolved right from the point he was made the captain of the Indian cricket team during the 2007 World T20 in South Africa till the third game against New Zealand in Thiruvananthapuram.
Dhoni has gone above his career strike rate only twice between 2007 and 2013. His best year was 2010, when he had a strike rate of 149.12. However, from 2014 till 2017, Dhoni’s strike rates have been 132.75, 125, 149.68 and 131. It’s an indication that Dhoni is evolving and batting more aggressively.
No.6 not for Dhoni
For most of his Twenty20 career, Dhoni has batted at No.5 or No.6 depending on the situation. At No.6, he has an average of 34 but his strike-rate is a lowly 111.84 while at No.5, it is 122.8 with an average of 122.83.
Since Dhoni has batted most of the time at No.6, a comparison was made from 2007 till 2017 for all batsmen who have batted at No.6. Results show that better the average, lower is the strike-rate. Only David Miller bucks the trend with an average of 30 and a strike-rate of over 130.
However, the game in Rajkot continued Dhoni’s worrying trend of not being able to get India over the line. Birmingham in 2014, Zimbabwe in 2016 and the narrow loss in the record run-chase at Lauderhill versus West Indies are some examples of his recent dip.
Considering Dhoni’s recent finishing troubles, Virat Kohli and the Indian cricket team could consider making the wicketkeeper a long-term No.4. Dhoni averages 51, has a strike-rate of 147.28 and has scored his only fifty in that position. The time might be right to convert Dhoni from a finisher to someone who can set up a chase.
First Published: Nov 08, 2017 19:54 IST