Cool Dhoni transforms India from ‘zeroes to heroes’

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Like billion other Indians I fretted and fumed last night (Sunday, 12th February) as I cajoled and yelled, “Come on Dhoni, stop this hit and run singles nonsense and start smashing fours and sixes.”

India needed 27 runs off three overs, then 17 off two and 13 off the final over to win, getting more difficult by the minute and only cool cat Dhoni looking unconcerned. To me he was losing a game which should have been won ten minutes ago.

But like mothers Dhoni knew best. He kept it to the last, smashing a huge six, and hits for two and three runs in the final heart-stopping over off a nervous Clint McKay to enable India to defeat Australia in a one-day international (ODI) at Adelaide for the first time.

Now suddenly, Michael Clarke has a fight on his hands apart from hamstring injury in his legs.

After months of looking down at the barrel of doom and gloom, the MS Dhoni-led Indians are looking at the stars.

The 2011 World Cup winners are back in the groove, for once appearing like world champions and not a pale blue imitation of last year’s red hot conquerors.

Has skipper Dhoni’s slow-release innings on Sunday night made the conversion from zeroes to heroes?

India has won two successive One Day Internationals (ODIs) in the Tri-nation series, beating Sri Lanka (the 2011 World Cup runners up) last Wednesday on the WACA and Australia, the top-ranked ODI team, in Adelaide; both by 4 wickets.

Sunday’s titanic clash between Australia and India on the Adelaide Oval was both a heart-stopper and a morale-booster for the down-in-the-dumps Indians.

Much has already been written on this epic Adelaide thriller, India winning with only two balls in hand. But here are two milestones for Dhoni few know about.

From 11 September 2011 to 12 February 2012, the Indian captain has played 10 ODIs (two v. England in England, five v. England in India and so far three against Australia in Australia and has scored 417 runs at an average of 208.05.

When he was dismissed for 29 in the first ODI v. Australia on the MCG on 5 February 2012, he averaged 369.00 in this period as he was unbeaten in his previous seven ODIs.

Here are his scores in his last 10 ODIs:

In the fourth ODI against England at Lord’s 11th September he had scored 78 not out and in the fifth and final ODI at Cardiff five days later, he made an unbeaten 50.

In the five-match ODI series against England in India last October, Dhoni was not dismissed even once.  His scores: 87 not out, did not bat, 35 not out, 15 not out and 75 not out. In all 212 runs in five consecutive matches.

Thus in these seven ODIs, he had scored 340 runs without getting out.

In the current ODI series, he scored 29 v. Australia in Melbourne, 4 against Sri Lanka in Perth and 44 unbeaten and winning runs against Australia in Perth on Sunday.

Currently he averages 208.50 from last September to 6 February.

His batting average in ODIs is a healthy 50.96. Only Australia’s Michael Bewan has a better average (53.58) among those who have played over 60 ODIs.


Also Dhoni’s batting average of 104.89 in successful chases (minimum 25 innings) is the highest in ODIs. The next best is by Australia’s Michael Clarke (89.20).


Statistics could be misleading but the way Dhoni composed himself in the final few overs, the message is clear. “We may have been rolled over in Tests but we are back in business.

And it was not just Dhoni. India bowled and fielded well (for a change) and Man of the Match Gautam Gambhir batted with resolve, his confidence back with a resolute 92.

However, his criticism of Dhoni for keeping it to the last over may suggest a rift in the team.

Unless Sri Lanka upsets India today in Adelaide on Tuesday, India are certain to meet Australia in the Final series.

So far the Tri-nation series has produced spine-chilling contests. Let’s hope the trend continues as none of the three teams likes to lose.

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