India skipper Virat Kohli had the perfect tribute for former skipper M.S. Dhoni when after the game against West Indies in the 2019 World Cup, he said: “He’s a legend of the game. Dhoni knows exactly what he wants to do in the middle. When he has an off day here and there, everyone starts talking. We always back him. He has won us so many games.”
Following India’s exit from the World Cup, speculations were rife that Dhoni will draw curtains to his international career. And he did that on Saturday, India’s 74th Independence Day.
IANS takes a look at his top five ODI knocks, some of which also earned him the tag of “best finisher” in 50-over cricket.
– 91* against Sri Lanka in 2011
“Dhoni finishes off in style. A magnificent strike into the crowd! India lift the World Cup after 28 years!” These words from Ravi Shastri in the commentary box will always reverberate in the minds of billions of Indians till eternity.
Though all-rounder Yuvraj Singh was the linchpin of India’s success in the 2011 World Cup, it was Dhoni who rose to the occasion during the final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Chasing Sri Lanka’s 275 for victory, India had the worst possible start, losing Virender Sehwag off the second ball and Sachin Tendulkar when the score was just 32. Dhoni, who was not in the best of form in the World Cup, surprised everyone by promoting himself ahead of in-form Yuvraj.
But Gautam Gambhir and skipper Dhoni steadied the ship with a 109-run fourth-wicket partnership and then his unbeaten 54-run partnership with Yuvraj (21) helped India clinch a six-wicket win as Dhoni wrapped it up with a straight six off pacer Nuwan Kulasekara.
– 183* against Sri Lanka in 2005
In a match which was completely dominated by the wicket-keepers, Dhoni overshadowed Kumar Sangakkara’s unbeaten century to help India register a famous win.
Sangakkara’s 138* helped Sri Lanka post an imposing 298/4. However, Dhoni went a step ahead as his 145-ball unbeaten 183, which consisted of 15 fours and 10 sixes, took India home with almost four overs to spare at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur.
– 148 against Pakistan in 2005
In just his fourth ODI, the stylish wicket-keeper batsman, who used to sport long hair back then, announced himself on the international stage by playing an explosive 148-run knock against arch-rivals Pakistan. His 123-ball knock — studded with 15 boundaries and four sixes — helped India reach 356/9 in their 50 overs. Pakistan put in a brave show but they ultimately fell short by 58 runs.
– 48* against Australia in 2012
Chasing Australia’s 270 at Adelaide, Gautam Gambhir kept India in the hunt with a majestic 92. However, a steady bowling performance by the Aussies kept the game in the balance.
And it all came down to the 13 runs required from the final over, with Clint McKay taking on the Indian skipper.
Dhoni, who was until then struggling to find the middle of the bat as he crawled to 33 from 55 balls before the final over, sent the high-pressure third delivery for a monumental 112-metre long maximum, one of the biggest sixes ever hit at the venue, and then secured the win with two balls to spare.
Dhoni remained not out at 48 and reminded everyone that no one in the sport can beat him when it comes to keeping cool and performing under immense pressure.
– 92* against South Africa in 2015
“Cometh the hour, cometh the man” this phrase fits aptly on Dhoni who against one of the best bowling attacks in the world, came to his own and emerged out as the lone warrior for Team India at Indore.
He smashed an unbeaten 92 which consisted of 7 fours and 4 sixes to help India post 247/9 on a rather flat pitch. He was well supported by Ajinkya Rahane (51) and Harbhajan Singh (22), but largely it was his solo effort which helped India pose a challenging total.
India defended well as Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Axar Patel took three wickets each to dismiss Proteas for 225 and recorded a memorable victory.