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Why Dhoni is the unparalleled wicketkeeper-batsman and finisher for India

He has 100 stumpings in 301 ODIs; of the 73 games in which he has been unbeaten, India has won 40

Anish Kumar  |  New Delhi 

India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays a shot against Sri Lanka during the 4th ODI match in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (File Photo: PTI)
India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays a shot against Sri Lanka during the 4th ODI match in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (File Photo: PTI)

When former India captain Mahendra Singh stepped into Colombo’s Premadasa Stadium to play against Sri Lanka, he achieved a milestone reached so far by only six other Indians – it was 300th one-day international (ODI) outing for Among those still playing cricket for India, only Yuvraj Singh and have achieved this feat. Dhoni’s career, of 13 years and counting, has been studded with several achievements – from winning the inaugural edition of the World Twenty20 Cup for India in 2007 to India’s ODI World Cup win in 2011, and becoming the only wicketkeeper-batsman to score a double century in Tests for India. Add to that a career average of nearly 52 and a strike rate of around 89, and you get a fair idea why he is considered one of best ODI bets for India yet. While the fourth ODI in the five-match was special for being Dhoni’s 300th, the final tie became special with the player setting another world record – when he dislodged Akila Dananjaya in the 45th over of the match, he became the first wicketkeeper even in ODI history to have made a century of While has played the most number of ODIs as a wicketkeeper, next only to Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara, he had been tied with the latter on 99 until he removed Dananjaya in his 301st ODI. By comparison, Sangakkara had taken 404 ODIs for his 99 In total, has helped dismiss 377 batsmen in ODIs through his catches and stumpings; that is the fourth-highest in the world for any wicketkeeper yet. Dhoni’s 9,657 runs at an average of 52.20 are the most by any Indian wicketkeeper-batsman, and his tally of 65 fifties is more than the combined number of half-centuries by other Indian wicketkeepers put together. While the cricketer has been known for his last-minute assaults to finish matches for India, his record as a builder of huge innings isn’t too weak, either. And revealed that even in his early days. His 183-run knock against Sri Lanka in 2004 remains the highest score by any Indian wicketkeeper-batsman. Before that, he had scored quick-fire 148 runs against Pakistan off 123 balls. In 2007, when most seniors refused to play the first Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa, was named the captain of a young team that went on to bag the championship for India. Having tasted success as the T20 captain, he went on to replicate it as the skipper for India in the longer formats of the game.

He not only managed to bury the ghost of the team’s disastrous show in the 2007 ODI World Cup, but also went on to make it world beaters in the very next edition in 2011. As if these were not enough, also holds the record for scoring the winning runs for his team in sixes – he has done so nine times, the most so far at the international level. led India in 199 ODIs, more than any other Indian cricketer. And his record was outstanding in that department as well. As a captain, he led the side in 331 matches across formats, and he is the only captain in cricketing history to win the ICC ODI World Cup, Champions Trophy and World T20 Cup for his team. So, it came as no surprise when an emotional Virat Kohli, the present captain, declared “you will always be our captain”, while presenting a silver bat on completion of his 300 ODIs. In successful run chases, has had an average of 101.84 – the most in ODIs. While Virat is second, with an average of 97.68, Australia’s Michael Bevan comes third with 86.25 (minimum 1,000 runs). No wonder he is considered the greatest finisher the game has seen. Recently, also broke the record for the highest number of not-outs, shared earlier by Shaun Pollock and Chaminda Vaas at 72. Of the 73 games in which has remained unbeaten, he has won 40 for India. While batting at number 6 or lower, holds the record for making 4,601 runs. After his 300th ODI, Team India head coach Ravi Shastri lauded and confirmed that the latter was not even half finished yet and was very much in the scheme of things for the Dhoni’s recent form against Sri Lanka has sent strong signals to selectors, who had earlier said Dhoni’s selection in the team was not automatic. He remained unbeaten throughout the Sri Lanka series and his 45, 67 and 49 in the last three ODIs bore testimony to his capability as a finisher.

First Published: Tue, September 05 2017. 21:03 IST