A timely reminder of Dhoni's powers

Skipper's ton proves fire burns brightly in him

A timely reminder of Dhoni's powers

MS Dhoni left the Aussies in shock with an innings full of poise and power in Nagpur on Wednesday. AFP

“I went blank for a while and I know it wasn’t a great start,” admitted Mahendra Singh Dhoni who got struck on the back of his head off a Ben Hilfenhaus bouncer in the second one-dayer in Nagpur on Wednesday.

After a shake of the head and a smile, the right-hander set about his batting and by the time he returned to the pavilion he had left the Australians numb.

The Indian skipper’s innings of 124 came in two parts. In the first half he had the responsibility to build the innings, which he did astutely, milking singles and twos. Once the innings was consolidated, he unleashed the beast in him that left the Aussie bowlers ragged.

It’s been a while since Dhoni played with such ferocity. The pressures and responsibilities that the captaincy brings along have considerably mellowed down Dhoni the destroyer. He has embraced circumspection and has consciously shed his attacking instincts as the numbers before and after he became the captain reveal.

“I am not the same what I was three or four years back, less responsibility and more flair but now there is more responsibility whenever I turn up on the field,” said Dhoni talking about his changed to approach to batting. “People expect me to get those runs and in some of the venues they expect me to hit big sixes but it is different batting at number five, six or seven. Usually you play according to the situation but mostly it depends on what kind of pressure you are handling,” he added.

Ever since he took over the ODI reigns from Rahul Dravid in 2007 with the home series against Australia, Dhoni has scored 2350 runs at a strike-rate of 85.17 in 63 matches. It’s a significant dip compared to his strike-rate of 96.26 as non-captain. At the same time, however, the Jharkhandi’s average has shot up appreciably. While he collected 2477 runs at an average of 44.23 before he became captain, his last 2350 runs as captain have come at 58.75. This year alone he has averaged a whopping 74.33 in 22 matches at a strike rate of 88.93, figures that establish him as one of the best finishers in this version.

Dhoni has often maintained that he goes by his instincts, but when it comes to his batting in the last two years he has made a deliberate attempt to change his style according to the situation. “There is a cautious attempt to see what the demand actually is. What happens is that if there is a youngster batting at number four and if he plays a big shot and gets out, people say ‘it is ok he will learn and improve.’ But when a set player who has played around 100-odd internationals, be it anyone, plays a big shot and succeeds he is a brave heart. But if he is not successful, people just rip him apart. At times, that is on the back of your head whenever you look to go for a big shot you back yourself and go for it,” he explained. There might be a number of reasons behind the Dhoni of today, but there is no denying the fact that his style of play has worked wonderfully for the team. Of course, whenever the opportunity beckons or the situation demands, like he showed in Nagpur, he will put his swivels and thwacks to good effect without throwing caution to the wind.

DH News Service

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