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February 27, 2013
Former Australia captain Greg Chappell has rated MS Dhoni's double-century in Chennai as his best in Tests. Dhoni's knock of 224 tilted the scales in India's favour, according to Chappell, and helped them to a 1-0 lead in the four-match series against Australia.
"He has played several memorable knocks in one-day cricket, but this was the best I have seen him play in Test matches," Chappell told The Times of India.
"I have seen him smack a yorker-length delivery from James Anderson for a six. It requires special talent. His success on a crumbling Chennai track stems from his ability to strike the ball hard on pitches where the ball tends to keep low. Had he scored just 124, the match would still have been in the balance. The manner in which he attacked a tiring Australian attack, shielding the tailenders, truly makes him a match-winner."
This was India's seventh win in the last 21 Tests, five of which have come against West Indies and New Zealand. India lost eight consecutive overseas Tests, and conceded a series at home to England for the first time in 28 years. Chappell accepted that the Indian team looked average on their tour of Australia last summer but maintained that Dhoni's captaincy shouldn't be under doubt.
"It is true that the Indian team under Dhoni looked below par during their tour Down Under, but he has answered his critics in the best possible way. In my book he remains the best man to lead India in all forms of the game.
"At a time when players all over the world are struggling to cope with their workload, it is amazing how Dhoni manages to play every game with the same intensity. That he has done it successfully now for five years speaks volumes about Dhoni's fitness, mental strength as well as his commitment. India are lucky to have him."
Although Australia crumbled under Dhoni's onslaught to eventually lose by eight wickets, a few of their players had impressed. One of them was the debutant Moises Henriques, who scored half-centuries in both innings, finishing with an unbeaten 81 in the second dig to help prevent an innings defeat. In Henriques, Chappell saw the makings of a long-term allrounder.
"It was good to see Henriques coming good at last. He has been on the fringe for a while. I hope he can be the allrounder that Australia have been looking for, particularly after a question mark over Shane Watson's ability to contribute with the ball."
Regardless of the result of the first Test, Chappell felt the series wouldn't be one-sided.
"It will be a close series, but thanks to Dhoni, India do have a significant advantage."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth
Plays of the Day from the third ODI between India and West Indies, in Kanpur