Is Dhoni still world's greatest finisher or is he losing his Midas touch?
Brisbane: Batting first or second, MS Dhoni has made it habit of batting right up to 45th over and beyond to ensure India either chase down a target or post a score that is competitive.
MS Dhoni walks back to the pavilion after being dismissed for 34 at the Gabba in Brisbane yesterday. Pic/AFP
In the 185 innings Dhoni has batted at No 5 and below for India, he has been not out on 55 occasions. That is close to 30 per cent or nearly one every three innings. It is a phenomenal stat and one that proves his status as a master finisher.
But over the past year, there have been instances in which the ever so composed Dhoni has managed to get out in the very situations that Dhoni has excelled in throughout his career. Not surprisingly, most of these innings have come abroad.
Since December 2013, in the matches Dhoni has played, India has lost 10 and won only five. In 14 innings, Dhoni has batted in that period, he has only remained unbeaten twice, one of them was in India. In New Zealand last year, he failed to finish off chases in Hamilton, Auckland and Napier despite scoring over 40 runs in each of those innings.
To give benefit of the doubt to the India captain, on each of those instances the asking rate had climbed to over eight an over and India were still in excess of 100 runs from the target. B
ut these are situations where Dhoni has managed to get India across the line with small contributions from the lower order. So to see him fail is a worrying signs.
Perhaps the inability to chase targets in overseas conditions resulted in India batting first in the current tri-series. The timing of Dhoni dismissals has been almost difficult to believe given the perfectionist in him.
In the first game against Australia at Melbourne, he reached 19 off 31 balls in the 44th over. In the next five overs, we all expected the vintage Dhoni but he was bowled dabbing at a ball.
In the second ODI, he had added 60 runs with Stuart Binny to take India to 137 for five in the 37th over. We all expected Dhoni to guide India to 250 but he got out.
It is a worrying trend for India and with the World Cup fast approaching it is pivotal Dhoni rediscovers the finishing touch.