Chennai Super Kings May 23, 2012

Dhoni delivers, again

In a tricky situation with the bat? Is it a do-or-die limited-overs match? Just call MS Dhoni

In a tricky situation with the bat? Is it a do-or-die limited-overs match? Just call MS Dhoni. His cool, commanding innings for India in the World Cup final last year is one most Indian fans need no reminding about. He's done the same for his IPL team, Chennai Super Kings, quite a few times too: remember that must-win final league match for Super Kings against Kings XI Punjab in Dharamsala in 2010? Forty-four off 18 needed, Dhoni steps it up, Super Kings win with two balls to spare - that was the difference between not making the semi-finals and winning the title. In the low-scoring 2010 Champions League final, it was Dhoni who took Super Kings across the line, smacking two fours and a six in the 19th over on a slowish pitch, after Super Kings had lost two wickets in quick succession and needed 13 off 12.

Fast-forward two years, and Super Kings are in the IPL eliminator against Mumbai Indians. They've had a poor start (4 for 2 after three overs, to be exact). Ninety-four solid runs later, they've made a recovery, but are far from safe on the batsman-friendly Bangalore pitch. In walks Dhoni. During the season, he has already sealed a last-ball win for his team by knocking two off Rajasthan Royals' Stuart Binny at Chepauk, and then delivered in their crucial chase against Kolkata Knight Riders, taking 17 off Marchant de Lange in the penultimate over to put Super Kings on course.

And right on cue, he produces the innings his team needs. Playing in the destructive mode that typified the early part of his career, he deposits the largest six of the tournament, out of the Chinnaswamy Stadium and follows up with a signature helicopter shot off Lasith Malinga on his way to 51 off 20. End result: record for the IPL's fastest fifty almost broken, the format's premier fast bowler dispatched for over 10 an over, and Super Kings on top and halfway to a place in Friday's qualifier.

Come Friday, should Super Kings find themselves in a spot of bother again, they'll still be quietly confident in knowledge that their captain thrives on pressure.

Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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