May 3, 2013

Dhoni and the art of controlling an IPL match

As the game proceeds at breakneck speed around him, his ingenious use of resources often catches the eye
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The IPL is a bit like a Bollywood potboiler when Chennai Super Kings are playing. When the opponent and the scoreboard conspire against them, their star, MS Dhoni, marches in with an air of invincibility and bravado, and raises his team from the dead. He is called the best finisher in T20 for a reason: when he's in the middle, one hardly ever doubts the result will not go CSK's way. That's how much sway he holds in the format.

His influence is not just restricted to when he contributes with the bat, but also when he dons the captain's hat. His meticulous manoeuvres on field suggest a dogged approach, and an astute mind at work.

A T20 match unfolds at such a rapid pace that you need to look hard to notice the nuances. An IPL game unfolds even faster, or so it seems. The broadcasters cut to the cheerleaders after every four, six, or wicket, and focus on the WAGs and their reactions in between deliveries. So we rarely get to observe the little things that make an impact on the game. Captaincy is one such aspect that gets very little attention - unfortunately there isn't enough time to focus on the different field positions employed for various bowlers at different stages.

However, Dhoni's ingenious use of resources does catch the eye. Ironically a man who is usually reluctant to flirt with innovative field positions in ODIs and Tests is at its imaginative best in the IPL, especially when dealing with his India team-mates; he obviously knows a lot about their strengths and weaknesses, and leaves no stone unturned when it comes to exploiting them.

Knowing Virat Kohli doesn't play the sweep shot remarkably well, especially early in his innings, made Dhoni place both short fine leg and square leg inside the circle for R Ashwin, an offspinner. The fielding restrictions were off, and there was no need to have those two men in the ring and risk a boundary, but Dhoni sensed a wicket-taking opportunity and went with it. (Kohli didn't fall for it, though, which shows his maturity.)

Similarly, in the game against Delhi Daredevils, there was a concerted effort to bowl short and into Virender Sehwag's body, with a fielder manning the square-leg boundary. Dhoni knew that while Sehwag doesn't play the pull or hook shot that often, he could take the bait if pestered enough. And he did.

For Gautam Gambhir, Dhoni had a fifth slip throughout when the seamers were operating, primarily as a single-saving tactic, for Gambhir likes to play the dab shot through slips. He also had a fielder close, between point and cover, to restrict Gambhir's effective square drive. These may not be big tricks to bank on, but they make a huge difference in defining one's approach, and possibly the eventual outcome.

Dhoni plays with his field positions and bowling changes more in T20s than in the other formats, which betrays his affinity and comfort with this version of the game. Also, his biggest strength, the ability to stay calm under pressure, has the most effect in T20 cricket, for the other two formats run at a much slower pace. In fact, staying calm can be counter-productive at times in Test cricket, for you often need to set the pace of the game and not swim with the current.

Bowling a yorker outside the off stump used to be an effective way to restrict Dhoni, for his bat-swing didn't allow him to go over cover that often, but even that isn't a safe option anymore

The most common mistake a batsman makes while playing a T20 match is to submit to the pace of the game. The game may move at a heightened speed but one ought to remember that a bowler usually takes the same amount of time to run up and deliver as he does in any other format. Also, while big hitting may be the need of the hour, one needs to be aware that you can only hit the ball out of the park if you make the right contact, which means watching the ball till the last moment and not losing one's shape when hitting.

Dhoni ticks all these boxes, and more, while batting in the second half of a T20 innings. For starters, he has abandoned the pre-set batting order this season and usually walked in with about ten overs to spare (in T20 cricket, you don't go by the number of wickets that have fallen but the number of balls left). This has allowed him to bide his time a little. Then his acute game-sense leads him to rotate the strike for the early part, manoeuvre it to his advantage in the next few overs, and own it in the final stretch, displaying an immense self-belief in his skills to clear the fence at will.

From a technical vantage point, Dhoni's ability to not lose shape while playing the big shots sets him apart. He achieves this with legs that create a strong base, fast hands that generate phenomenal bat speed, a very unorthodox bat-swing that finishes with a twirl of the wrists (and not a full extension of his arms), and a tendency to hit with a relatively straight bat - he rarely goes too far across the stumps and doesn't target the square-leg boundary off the front foot.

In addition, he goes deep inside the crease to get under yorkers and create elevation. Bowling a yorker outside the off stump used to be an effective way to restrict Dhoni, for his bat-swing didn't allow him to go over cover that often, but even that isn't a safe option anymore: he has started waiting a little longer and flaying them over the point region.

While Dhoni's ability to not be flustered even when the asking rate is over 12 runs per over is fascinating, his tactical acumen to have fielders in positions that challenge batsmen to come out of their comfort zones, shows his desire to be in complete control of the game. He knows when to go after bowlers, just as he knows when to shift gears, qualities that make him a rare asset in the T20 format.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on May 4, 2013, 5:09 GMT

    Personally I like the way Dhoni Plays ODI which makes him best finisher in that format. After winning 1st T20 World Cup India's performance in other T20 World Cups was disastrous, because none of the players were in good form except some good innings from Raina and Gambhir, Specially Dhoni's strike rate in T20 in that period was just about 110. In test matches he was not a good batsman, though he has played some good innings only in sub continents, but in foreign conditions he was vulnerable. India was in top spot in tests because of the performances of Sachin, Sehwag, Dravid and laxman was at its best. He is not responsible for test series loss to AUS and ENG because no one was performing well. After his epic 224 against AUS he looks in tremendous form in all format of the game. CSK is winning because of that. Need to see him in SA Conclusion, When Dhoni(Captain) performs it boost the confidence in other players to perform well, so till he is in good form he is the best captain.

  • on May 3, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    When you speak about MSD, for me the first thing that jumps to mind is, brilliant & one of the best limited overs batsmen & captain. I have no doubt, his calmness & random thinking makes him a good captain, & he has shown that to us all. I agree completely with Aakash in that statement about MSD in test cricket being too calm & not deciding the pace of the game. I know numbers don't lie & he has one more tests than any other captain for India, but personally, I yet think he has a long way to go in Tests. I know after the Aussie white wash in India, people might not agree with me but i yet say he has a lot more to prove. No disrespect to MSD at all. I actually like the way he carries him self on the field & I do definitely think he is a batsmen who in time will be averaging more than 45 in Test cricket. I am really looking forward to seeing his performance in South Africa later this year not as just a captain but a batsman as well. I think he has a long way ahead of him but a bright one

  • on May 5, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    post 224 vs Australia dhoni has been in tremendous form, so far this Ipl , every on e is lucky to see a such an exceptional performance from this star captain-batsman. the way he is calculating the risk for the shots and targeting the bowlers is exceptional. Especially the innings with hyderabad and pune showed his caliber and value to the team. But it is unfortunate to see him out in the first match vs mumbai for a great catch. hoping this form would continue for the rest of IPL and in champions trophy.

  • Pavinasen on May 5, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    Gayle is the best starter and Dhoni the best finisher,no debate the facts prove this comment.Gayle can be put under pressure when the expectation are high on him.Dhoni puts the pressure back on the opposition.

  • ramli on May 4, 2013, 12:33 GMT

    MSD is a good finisher in IPL ... but IPL is not equivalent of T20 internationals ... MSD has shown very little promise in T20 internationals of late ... he is a good finisher in ODIs ... so let us wait another T20 international to see if MSD is also a good finisher in T20 cricket ...

  • on May 4, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    @ yavaid, just go and see how many from Chennai were selected for Champions Trophy. Out of 15 players selected, 5 come from Chennai. If we assume players were selected based on performance, then you can clearly see why Chennai is doing well in IPL6. Its not purely by Dhoni's captancy skills, though compared to other Indian captains, he has lots of experiene simply bacause he has been the Indian captain for many years now.

  • on May 4, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    @InsaneInsaan - Test cricket is boring - do not mention it? News for you - T20 is also called exhibition cricket - it is not the real deal. Sorry you didnt seem to know this until now - hence I think your comments can be safely ignored.

    The likes of Pollard, or, Ravi Jadeja maybe superstars in the T20 format, however they will not even be mentioned in cricket history's footnotes.

  • mathewjohn2176 on May 4, 2013, 4:35 GMT

    @Naman Gupta, india were never good overseas.Under captaincy of ganguly,india had the best team to win overseas matches with the right mixed of young dravid,laxman,tendulkar,sehwag,Kumble,harbhjan and zaheer khan but still failed to win a series in Australia or even a drawn series in SA.Under dhoni captaincy ,when seniors were performing,india levelled the series in SA for the very first time .But when they travelled to England and Australia,all the seniors were in poor form due to age and now tendulkar is the last man standing ( he is still in poor form) at the moment.So expecting Dhoni to do miracles when entire team fails collectively is not justifiable.Team needs to perform to win matches and captain is as good as the team.When ganguly captaincy,,these great players were in form and thus winning few test matches here and there but not good enough to win overseas test series in Australia or SA.India always win in india with previous captains ( azhar,ganguly) under doctored condition

  • jasonpete on May 4, 2013, 3:40 GMT

    Posted by Naman Gupta on (May 3, 2013, 22:22 GMT), You need to understand to win test matches,team needs to contribute.When india toured Australia and England, all the senior players were out of form and couldn't even pass 300 in most of the innings.You talk about ganguly captaincy,but under his captaincy,it was Kumble,dravid,laxman,sachin all performed well and they were young and was in form along with good bowlers .Same happened with dhoni and Gary combo,india did well to reach the top spot but when the seniors past their prime,nothing can be done ,even ganguly won't be able to win matches with non performing seniors.You blame dhoni for all the overseas test defeats and when someone credit for overseas win,you come with the team mates performances.Kindly put up the details of the top 6 batsmen performances in Australia and England before talking about captain overseas record.Beside all this he has the most runs as winning captain and most successful captain for india at the moment.

  • on May 3, 2013, 22:22 GMT

    @ Ravi Darira: "We never won a ODI tournament there until Dhoni lead us to win in 2008". Seriously, so it wasn't sachin's century and 90 or batting or gambhir in early stages; it wasn't the wickets taken by praveen kumar, it wasn't the bowling of ishant sharma, sreesanth or irfan pathan in initial stages. And best captain. Mate Sachin is heavily criticised as a poor captain. But even under him India performed much better in Australia and England. That time Pakistan, Australia, South Africa and West Indies were much stronger than today. Under Ganguly and Kumble India almost won a series in Australia (the side was also much better with batting of ponting (at his peak), hayden, gilchrist, waugh, clarke and bowling of brett lee, stuart clark, jason gillespe, stuart macgill). Also you said India were never good everseas. Well if dhoni couldn't improve it (worsen infact) then how is a the best Indian captain, using a witewash on doctored pitches to prove your point.

  • on May 4, 2013, 5:09 GMT

    Personally I like the way Dhoni Plays ODI which makes him best finisher in that format. After winning 1st T20 World Cup India's performance in other T20 World Cups was disastrous, because none of the players were in good form except some good innings from Raina and Gambhir, Specially Dhoni's strike rate in T20 in that period was just about 110. In test matches he was not a good batsman, though he has played some good innings only in sub continents, but in foreign conditions he was vulnerable. India was in top spot in tests because of the performances of Sachin, Sehwag, Dravid and laxman was at its best. He is not responsible for test series loss to AUS and ENG because no one was performing well. After his epic 224 against AUS he looks in tremendous form in all format of the game. CSK is winning because of that. Need to see him in SA Conclusion, When Dhoni(Captain) performs it boost the confidence in other players to perform well, so till he is in good form he is the best captain.

  • on May 3, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    When you speak about MSD, for me the first thing that jumps to mind is, brilliant & one of the best limited overs batsmen & captain. I have no doubt, his calmness & random thinking makes him a good captain, & he has shown that to us all. I agree completely with Aakash in that statement about MSD in test cricket being too calm & not deciding the pace of the game. I know numbers don't lie & he has one more tests than any other captain for India, but personally, I yet think he has a long way to go in Tests. I know after the Aussie white wash in India, people might not agree with me but i yet say he has a lot more to prove. No disrespect to MSD at all. I actually like the way he carries him self on the field & I do definitely think he is a batsmen who in time will be averaging more than 45 in Test cricket. I am really looking forward to seeing his performance in South Africa later this year not as just a captain but a batsman as well. I think he has a long way ahead of him but a bright one

  • on May 5, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    post 224 vs Australia dhoni has been in tremendous form, so far this Ipl , every on e is lucky to see a such an exceptional performance from this star captain-batsman. the way he is calculating the risk for the shots and targeting the bowlers is exceptional. Especially the innings with hyderabad and pune showed his caliber and value to the team. But it is unfortunate to see him out in the first match vs mumbai for a great catch. hoping this form would continue for the rest of IPL and in champions trophy.

  • Pavinasen on May 5, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    Gayle is the best starter and Dhoni the best finisher,no debate the facts prove this comment.Gayle can be put under pressure when the expectation are high on him.Dhoni puts the pressure back on the opposition.

  • ramli on May 4, 2013, 12:33 GMT

    MSD is a good finisher in IPL ... but IPL is not equivalent of T20 internationals ... MSD has shown very little promise in T20 internationals of late ... he is a good finisher in ODIs ... so let us wait another T20 international to see if MSD is also a good finisher in T20 cricket ...

  • on May 4, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    @ yavaid, just go and see how many from Chennai were selected for Champions Trophy. Out of 15 players selected, 5 come from Chennai. If we assume players were selected based on performance, then you can clearly see why Chennai is doing well in IPL6. Its not purely by Dhoni's captancy skills, though compared to other Indian captains, he has lots of experiene simply bacause he has been the Indian captain for many years now.

  • on May 4, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    @InsaneInsaan - Test cricket is boring - do not mention it? News for you - T20 is also called exhibition cricket - it is not the real deal. Sorry you didnt seem to know this until now - hence I think your comments can be safely ignored.

    The likes of Pollard, or, Ravi Jadeja maybe superstars in the T20 format, however they will not even be mentioned in cricket history's footnotes.

  • mathewjohn2176 on May 4, 2013, 4:35 GMT

    @Naman Gupta, india were never good overseas.Under captaincy of ganguly,india had the best team to win overseas matches with the right mixed of young dravid,laxman,tendulkar,sehwag,Kumble,harbhjan and zaheer khan but still failed to win a series in Australia or even a drawn series in SA.Under dhoni captaincy ,when seniors were performing,india levelled the series in SA for the very first time .But when they travelled to England and Australia,all the seniors were in poor form due to age and now tendulkar is the last man standing ( he is still in poor form) at the moment.So expecting Dhoni to do miracles when entire team fails collectively is not justifiable.Team needs to perform to win matches and captain is as good as the team.When ganguly captaincy,,these great players were in form and thus winning few test matches here and there but not good enough to win overseas test series in Australia or SA.India always win in india with previous captains ( azhar,ganguly) under doctored condition

  • jasonpete on May 4, 2013, 3:40 GMT

    Posted by Naman Gupta on (May 3, 2013, 22:22 GMT), You need to understand to win test matches,team needs to contribute.When india toured Australia and England, all the senior players were out of form and couldn't even pass 300 in most of the innings.You talk about ganguly captaincy,but under his captaincy,it was Kumble,dravid,laxman,sachin all performed well and they were young and was in form along with good bowlers .Same happened with dhoni and Gary combo,india did well to reach the top spot but when the seniors past their prime,nothing can be done ,even ganguly won't be able to win matches with non performing seniors.You blame dhoni for all the overseas test defeats and when someone credit for overseas win,you come with the team mates performances.Kindly put up the details of the top 6 batsmen performances in Australia and England before talking about captain overseas record.Beside all this he has the most runs as winning captain and most successful captain for india at the moment.

  • on May 3, 2013, 22:22 GMT

    @ Ravi Darira: "We never won a ODI tournament there until Dhoni lead us to win in 2008". Seriously, so it wasn't sachin's century and 90 or batting or gambhir in early stages; it wasn't the wickets taken by praveen kumar, it wasn't the bowling of ishant sharma, sreesanth or irfan pathan in initial stages. And best captain. Mate Sachin is heavily criticised as a poor captain. But even under him India performed much better in Australia and England. That time Pakistan, Australia, South Africa and West Indies were much stronger than today. Under Ganguly and Kumble India almost won a series in Australia (the side was also much better with batting of ponting (at his peak), hayden, gilchrist, waugh, clarke and bowling of brett lee, stuart clark, jason gillespe, stuart macgill). Also you said India were never good everseas. Well if dhoni couldn't improve it (worsen infact) then how is a the best Indian captain, using a witewash on doctored pitches to prove your point.

  • on May 3, 2013, 22:13 GMT

    Hope we see some of this charisma at the Champions trophy next month in Cardiff, Birmingham and at Oval. I am watching two of those three games!!!

  • InsaneInsaan on May 3, 2013, 21:48 GMT

    some people keep raising the away test defeats....... face it .... india had no good bowlers..... if u dont hav wheels.....then how can u drive a car??

    look at CSK there are players.... good players...... dhoni identifies their abilities and maximizes them......

    dhoni is the best player in indian cric history... sachin with those selfish 100s isnt even close......

    one more thing.. dont talk abt test matches during IPL, TEST is BORING and an outdated format. it is toooooooooo long. face it. test cricket is stupid.... T20 is the best...

    maxwell got a place in ozie test team..... NOT in IPL... IPL is best....

  • Harmony111 on May 3, 2013, 20:56 GMT

    Let's put it this way --- If MSD had 1 bowler like Steyn, 1 AR like Kallis & 2-3 fielders like most SA/Aus ones then India would have done much better than what SA/Aus/Eng have done under Smith/Ponting-Clarke/Strauss-Cook. I have said it in the past and would say it again, it is unreasonable for us to expect MSD to be Alexander without giving him the necessary troops.

  • RAMKI2404 on May 3, 2013, 20:15 GMT

    Before writing something about Dhoni we need to look back in the history of Indian cricketing captains. No one is closed to him except Sourav. It holds good for WK too.

  • EverybodylovesSachin on May 3, 2013, 19:01 GMT

    Best in Indian conditions and Super in Chennai..

  • ladycricfan on May 3, 2013, 18:54 GMT

    Auction is a level playing field. Any franchise can buy any player they want. The salary cap is same for all. CSK management chose the players they have. Now others can't complain that CSK has advantage that they have so many Indian capped players. What stopped others from buying these players? Anyway, MI and RCB also have good Indian players. RR, SRH and KXIP are showing that uncapped Indian youngsters are equally good and they are contributing to their teams'success. These talented youngsters are the future of Indian cricket. Only thing they lack now is experience.

  • on May 3, 2013, 18:19 GMT

    no doubt about it that Dhoni is at his best.

  • on May 3, 2013, 18:17 GMT

    A Man with such caliber should have been more successful in international t20's .India after initial world cup triumph in 2007 have been found wanting in the shortest version.The players have let down the captain but even Dhoni has been not performed upto full potential .A strike rate of below 120 for player as destructive about dhoni is unjustified.

  • JBSA on May 3, 2013, 18:13 GMT

    To all those complain about Dhoni getting a good team rather than marshalling it good: This team is tinkered each and every season with many players going in and out. But the real difference is showing faith in players even when they fail.(If they really have the talent). Badri, Ashwin, Vijay, Faf, Bailey, Saha, Mohit, Jakati, Gony were all unnown. But CSK believed & MSD shown the required support. MSD - Fleming - VB Chandrasekar, these three people were the base of CSK. VB identified the talents. Fleming scrutinized and devised the Game Plans and Season Strategies. MSD executed it all excellently & also marshalled it so well. The on-field decisions were crucial. MSD knows old balls swings in after 14th over. He knew what his bowlers strength and weakness. He will tell if he holds back Albie he will anyway go for runs in last few overs so finished it on trot. He was the first one to silence Gayle that too on a Final. He floats the batting order so well to confuse the opponents. Its MSD

  • on May 3, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    Hitting sixes at will is like operating a remote control for him. Turn it on, turn it off !!! The best thing about this guy is, He knows when to turn it on !!! (Which many others are very bad at) That's what makes him the best finisher in world cricket

  • on May 3, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    @ yavaid, I was not talking about how Channai played in previous IPLs or even how Dhoni developed players. What I said is, in current form, in ODI matches played in India, at least 4 players from Chennai are in playing XI. If you devide 11 by 9 (no. of teams playing this IPL), you can get 1 player (or max 2) per team. But Chennai has 4. Isn't it a advantage for Chennai? Going back to something you said about past IPLs how Dhoni develeoped these players, thats what I also mean. Since he is the indian captain, he gives more chances to players who plays for Chennai so definetely they can improve their games, then Chennai wins matches. Appreciate your opinions though !

  • Cpt.Meanster on May 3, 2013, 16:41 GMT

    He's the BEST limited overs wicket keeper and captain in the world by MILES. When it comes to test cricket, he's a completely different player because he does not like the format which is cool with me. Cause, I don't like test cricket either. He's been a pillar for CSK and one of the reasons for their success over the years. I bet he will win the season for CSK yet again. Dhoni rocks, CSK rocks !!!!

  • EverybodylovesSachin on May 3, 2013, 16:39 GMT

    It is not overyet..The team wins this IPL this season has the best team and best captain.

  • Dev_K on May 3, 2013, 15:13 GMT

    Oh they do play real matches in IPL. I thought whole of cricket is rigged nowadays. Anyway cricket really suits Indians' lazy mentality. Sad to say I am one too and a fan too (albeit going through withdrawal, hopefully I will get over it soon.)

  • on May 3, 2013, 14:54 GMT

    Dhoni's calm, his sense of fair-play and his humility on and off the field are certainly assets. He does not have many natural gifts, but look at how he has adapted his ODI game from a firebrand to a smooth finisher. He will certainly go down as an ODI great. Test cricket, as the name suggests, is a bigger test of skills. Again, just like Ponting after the 'great's retired, he will have to live with the away whitewashes in 2011. But let us not judge his captaincy creds by that. Dhoni has seldom had a settled bowling attack to call upon, let alone great bowlers - even when the batting was at its peak. To manage with threadbare resources is an art too. And his roster of wins both at international and domestic level tournaments are pretty serious. For all those calling Dhoni a 'subcontinent-only' player - Dennis Lillee has atrocious record in the subcontinent, and England did not win in India for longer than they didn't win the Ashes - go figure!

  • on May 3, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    I am amazed with a lot of anti-dhoni comments on here. Clearly people do not still understand how lucky India is to have someone like Dhoni as our captain, wicket keeper and ace batsman - he excels doing jobs of 3 people.

    Every team he plays for has achieved success (India - 2 World cups and #1 test rank, 4-0 sweep vs Australia 1st time ever), CSK (3 titles). Name one other captain in India who has even come close. People still talk about losses in England and Australia, but India has NEVER won in Australia in the history of Tests. Both of those series our batsmen and bowlers failed all the time and you blame Dhoni. We never won a ODI tournament there until Dhoni lead us to win in 2008.

    So please learn to appreciate talent and give credit as it is due. He is a living legend.

  • Haleos on May 3, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    I keep wondering where his captaincy skills go when India plays T20I? India looses far too many T20s. Dhoni has almost half of his CSk team to use while captaining India too.

  • ToTellUTheTruth on May 3, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    Well, showing all these qualities in IPL is well and good. But he falls way short in all departments in T20 Internationals and in the T20 WCs. The first one was a fluke.

  • on May 3, 2013, 13:29 GMT

    CSK batting line up is well complimented by Saha, hussey, raina, badri and bravo apart from MSD. The bowling dept is weak and that can be one to drag them from taking the cup this year.. It will be hard for Vijay or Anirudh to get back the opening slot.. better luck next ipl edition.

  • Nampally on May 3, 2013, 13:13 GMT

    Yes, Dhoni is easily the best reliable finisher in T20 today. He does an excellent job when he deals with his own team mates like Kohli, Gambhir & Sehwag as regards field placement. Dhoni also has developed a very strong group in the CSK team with guys like Raina, Jadeja, Hussey & Bravo. CSK is one of the best & most reliable IPL team & their streak of last 7 wins proves it. An IPL team needs more than 2 or 3 dominant individuals. It requires a group of talent which plays as a "Team"! Dhoni has developed that team & has embued in his players the T20 culture. I wish Dhoni develops the same culture in the Indian Test team which is yet to reach that level. No wonder with more CSK players like Vijay, Jadeja, Ashwin in the XI, he is trying to develop that culture. However India has more talent than the CSK players. So Dhoni has to think outside the box by encouraging young talent + moving away from IPL culture to Test Culture to achieve this. I hope he does that as India skipper!

  • Pavinasen on May 3, 2013, 13:09 GMT

    A lot of people used to say that he had luck on his side & flooked many wins.What nonsense.He is one of the most entertaining cricketer ,with an immense knowlegde of the game & its players.He is an intelligent cricketer.i do recall the forst champions leauge that was played in SA CSK never lost a game except for the 1 in the superover.That should tell you about the smartness of this cricketer.

  • on May 3, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    he is The best is IPL for Chennai Super Kings Good in One Dayers Bad in Internal 20-20 Worst in Test

  • iHitWicket on May 3, 2013, 13:00 GMT

    Agreed the MSD is a great T20 and ODI batter especially in subcontinent. I can also agree that he remains calm under intense pressure (how does he do that??). But I do have a bone or two to pick with his captaincy, even in T20. As you said he is best T20 captain in IPL that too against his Indian team mates. So you are judging his captaincy decisions which he bases on excellent knowledge of the player acquired by playing along side them for India. That's hardly great captaincy. A great captain should be a quick learner and astute judge of people and situations and should not need through knowledge of opposition batter's weakness. MSD sure has his place among great Indian captains. I used to think he is better than Sourav - I no longer think that. Sourav brought courage, leadership and cunning to the table, MSD brought calmness with him. Although calmness is a great asset, MSD lacks in one vital "captaincy skill" : to seize the moment and make it your own at least available opportunity.

  • sillypoint6 on May 3, 2013, 12:32 GMT

    absolutely right GoCho, dhoni is only subcontinental condition player not international player, what happened in eng and aus everyone knows and his record abroad tells.

  • couchpundit on May 3, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    @Janaka Kumara--- your observation seems very shallow. Lets break your myth of 4 Indian ODI players...Ashwin was not even considered for Indian Probables when IPL started, Raina was never a success for all the hype all through the years, for jadeja how sure are you that you even considered him as a player who can play for indian XI, untill his recent success which incidently came after CSK bought him?!! Now to foreign players...i think you mean albie morkel...he is and as an average player for SA who was always in bench, Nannes played 1 ODI, Faf du Plessis...really you would not have known him if hehad not played for CSK last year followed up by SA call. Majority of these players bloomed under Dhoni/CSK. Which shoudl tell you something about the man. BTW MI,KKR and RCB have the real big names... what are they doing...if not for ShakibAl hassan complementing Suni Naraine last season KKR could not have qualified, look what happened to them this year? Learn to appreciate Talent.

  • criteek on May 3, 2013, 12:03 GMT

    MSD is a fantastic t20 batsmen and a captain who hadles the spin bowlers pretty well to control the pace of the game. Switch to a test format, as a batsman there is only that much he can do with his technique that sans drives straight or square. And out of home he becomes a captain to target by opponent rather than a solid no 7 who can rally the tail. As a captain his ability to handle the pacers needs a lot to be desired, way to defensive and expecting things to happen rather than setting the pace of the game. Hope to see a confident Indian captain in SA than a passive one.

  • on May 3, 2013, 12:01 GMT

    lol, agreed with Karan Kumar 77 and palla.avinash. Also for all his IPL exploits, his T20 stats aren't very inspiring. A strikerate of 115 is very poor for a so-called finisher like dhoni, and his amazing ball striking ability only shows how much he is underachieving at international level. Check dhoni's batting stats in Australia and you will find that Anil Kumble has a higher average. Look further and you will find that these stats are better despite having to face warne and Mcgrath, which dhoni didn't face. I don't know what happened to him because he used to be such a good team player. Now he is just an attention seeker childishly desperate to finish the game with a boundary. The way Pujara slowed down after a chat with dhon in last test;i T20 in Australia, where he suddenly promoted himself early after Kholi got out with India in winning position;worldcup final where with match in balance and yuvraj in form, dhoni promoted himself with nothing in rest of tournament are proofs.

  • on May 3, 2013, 11:52 GMT

    Can someone else in this thread agree with me about the needlessness of the cheerleaders???

  • mathewjohn2176 on May 3, 2013, 11:21 GMT

    Posted by KaranKumar77 on (May 3, 2013, 10:22 GMT), how about Mumbai who plays with good Indian and international players won no IPL trophy till now? They have all the talented Indian players but yet no trophy for Mumbai Indians with the likes of Ojha,pollard,tendulkar, harbhajan,dinesh karthik,rayudu and so on? Ashwin, vijay and few other players were not even existed at the start of IPL in 2009 yet the CSK reached final in first IPL season.First season KKR filled with stars like gayle and brendan mccullum but yet they took last place.So how about giving credit when its due.By the well written article akash.

  • deathstar01 on May 3, 2013, 11:05 GMT

    Hussey is the key in CSK batting. And I am amazed to see the team spirit in the CSK team. In the whole 5 IPL seasons they have made so little changes unlike other teams.

  • NP_NY on May 3, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    @GoCho: If you are going to pick on just certain words, you are going to miss the point of the article....like you seem to have done. MS Dhoni is the best finisher in limited overs cricket, period. In the last 5-6 years, he has won the T20 world cup, one day world cup, a T20 champions trophy and a couple of IPL championships...all as captain. In the course he has taken the team home on so many occasions with his batting alone. Show me another captain in the world who has been this successful in limited overs cricket in the last 5-6 years.

  • on May 3, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    What you write here may be right but the success of Channai team has mainly been due to quality of players. Among Indian players, Channai has the best players. Look at their players, at least 4 of Indian ODI XI is there (Dhoni, Ashwin, Raina and Jadeja). Then, they get M Hussey, Bravo, M Morkel, Nannes, Hilfenhaus, Paf du Plessis etc. I think overall they get best Indian and overseas players (in current form). But having said that, Chennai team seems very intelligent about how cricket going around. Also, being Indian captain, he seems giving more chances to these Indians and developed them as proper players and then always getting most of the players during Auctions.Except Mumbai team to a certain level, none other teams have practiced that.

  • KaranKumar77 on May 3, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    What about his leadership in T20s for India. After winning the first t20 world cup in 2007 India's record in T20 format is very very poor.

    In CSK he has got all the top class Indian Talent: Raina, Jadeja, Ashwin, Dhoni, Murli Vijay, Badrinath and now Mohit Sharma. No other team boast of such Indian talent.

  • A.Ak on May 3, 2013, 10:17 GMT

    Its a simple fact - He knows his and his team mates limitations (which is unlimited). He has the belief in himself and his team. Play to their ability. Win or Lose is NOT the end of the world.

  • deekss on May 3, 2013, 10:15 GMT

    MSD has the greatest cricketing sense at present including the whole ipl community(players,staff,coaches):that is key to his composure & mental strength on the ground.His par confidence to get things done by himself as well as others lets him to be on the right side as always as you see.He is most successful captain & a street smart payer in every format of the game. It's too much fun as well as getting your brainwashed every time you see him batting with an elegant sense of cricket that is so rare among players. He is almost complete & perfect. #Elegance #Brilliance

  • ladycricfan on May 3, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    People seem to forget that during Dhoni's captaincy India was top of the test rankings. To win test matches abroad you need good fast bowlers. Dhoni can only use what is available to him. It is good to see Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Praveen Kumar, I sharma, Umesh Yadav, Vinay kumar doing well in the IPL.

  • GoCho on May 3, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    Incomplete analysis Aakash! Calling him a t20 champion when he has flopped in the last 3 t20 world cups, both as a captain and a batsman is ridiculous. He is the best ipl batsman and captain, nothing more.

  • JustAnotherCricketFan on May 3, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    @liteonon thanks man, you actually shed a light on the use or Badri and Sir Jadeja for me with your comment. I wouldve thought when he prometed Ashwin to open in one of the match that y not give Jadeja or Badri a chance to get some time in the middle which might be good for their confidence. but I suppose thats y Dhoni is a genius and not me, he is not over exposing them, when everyone else is firing. plus ur right, and that Badri is very dependable and Jadeja would have technical flaws which can be exploited by others.

    ALthough im not sure if its DHoni's thinking or a large influence of that strategy is Stephen Fleming? I think people dont give enough credit to FLeming and that DHoni and Fleming is one of the best captain-coach combo out there.

    I wouldve thought india would have brought in fleming after Gary kirsten as the new coach.

  • on May 3, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    Bottom-line: IPL is a festival of Cricket. An whole-some entertainment package. Just like any Indian masala flick, you'll always have hero saving the girl at the end of the movie. MSD is the crorepati super-star at this moment.

  • BRUTALANALYST on May 3, 2013, 8:24 GMT

    "Dhoni's ability to not lose shape while playing the big shots sets him apart" NOt really whilst Dhoni is incredible there are at least a dozen or more batsman in the IPL that play big shots without losing shape Gayle , Warner ,Miller AB, Raina, e.t.c

  • GRVJPR on May 3, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    Most shameful overseas record. Doesn't matter how much he wins in India, its away record that will matter.

  • on May 3, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    Another great article by Aakash.. Your attention to details in every article you right is amazing. Please keep writing and i hope you get a chance to be part of Indian teams decision making body coz i feel you have one of the better cricketing brains than the ones currently involved. And coming to Dhoni - great T20 and ODI player/captain. test lot needs to be imroved. As mentioned in the article he needs to make things happen rather than playing the waiting game.

  • liteonon on May 3, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    Dhoni is a mastermind of tactics of not using his bench strengh he has but even using his own playing XI. He keeps out of exposing badrinath and Jadeja almost as long as he can in every match. They are sent in only in situations that is unavoidable, so that the oppsition does not have a look at their weaknesses and these two deliver when the team is in cruch situations.

  • on May 3, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    Dhone is the best captain india could have ever had. He's the one who has brought the youngster's talent out thier capacity. Before him ganguly and dravid were hesitant to do that. But, you can (e.g. jadeja) is a great all-rounder now, just because dhoni persisted with him. He has more that great self belief in himself both as a captain and as a batsman. This make him finish matches as victorious.

  • KK47 on May 3, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    MSD is easily the BEST keeper-batsman around world cricket. Along with AB De Villiers he is probably one of the very few who plays all three formats without rest. It just shows his physical fitness and commitment to cricket. Add captaincy to this list and undoubtedly he is the most valuable player in recent history. We need to judge a player by his ability to win matches. Name a player who has done better than Dhoni. Lot of people have commented on his test career. His batting average is 40, better than Shane Watson and 5 less than Prior who has played 12 fewer matches. He may not be a Gilchrist yet but he would go down in history as a legend.

  • vswami on May 3, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    In a test match, the gap in resources between two teams is very hard to bridge, however good a captain he is. Fleming was regarded as a very good captain, but how much did he really win captaining New Zealand ? Nothing earthshaking because he worked with limited resources. Its a bit of the same with Dhoni and test matches. You simply cant win overseas tests without a good pace attack, and Dhoni doesnt have one. All this setting pace on the field etc is meaningless when you quickest bowler bowls at 132k. Dhoni knows it and his hands are tied and he cant attack recklessly on the field. When overseas captains go defensive against Indian batting in Indian conditions, its called strategy.

  • PravinJP10 on May 3, 2013, 7:28 GMT

    Without any doubt MSD is the perfect match finisher and very clever captain. @ plavadisuresh learn the game kid, here its a competition, not a summer camp to give chances to all who are in the Squad. Not to forget the chances he has gives to the youngsters, and young talents can learn more while practicing with international players like Gilly, Dravid, Mr. Cricket, Muralidharan and so on...,

  • Baseball-Sucks on May 3, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    Yeah, only IPL T20's not international. LOL India failed to make it to at least semi in last 2 T20 WC's. lol

  • realfan on May 3, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    fair enough i want dhoni to lead india for coming 5 years.... he is the best thing for indian team right now....he will get something out of nothing from even a medicore players... eg: sudeep tyagi, jakathi, anirudh srikanth, goni......

    i am fan of csk just for him and raina....

  • thinkgood on May 3, 2013, 7:04 GMT

    Barely 3 months ago people - Indian fans and media alike - were asking for his scalp and now he has become a master strategist ! Indian cricket is a big show biz where heroes come and go overnite. Pathetic.

  • BrianCharlesVivek on May 3, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    Ok good points, noted. But let him try and lead Pune warriors or Hyderabad and we ll see what happens....These same things could have been tried out in T20 World cups as well, so that India will benefit.

  • satishchandar on May 3, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    The beauty about Dhoni is, he picks even mediocre players in the 11 but the guy will get enough chances to prove himself mediocre.. It may sound rude to better players but still, as a human, if you make a decision, you should stand by it.. Not change your mind after result.. MSD banked on Yomi last time and backfired.. Restored back to Jakati.. Rajpoot was decent but Mohit really grabbed the chances he got and is now almost a permanent member of the squad..

    Why Dhoni succeeds? He works with Fleming who is no.1 mastermind in cricket.. He got a great team.. Hussey can attack as well as be a second fiddle, Saha utilising his chances a bit, Raina slowly getting his form back, Badri always there for crisis and wont complain if he doesnt bat at all.. Dhoni, Morkel, Bravo, Jadeja all capable of scoring more than 10 per over in last 6-8 overs and chip with ball too.. Mohit becoming a good prospect, Ashwin being decent though a bit inconsistent.. If 8 out of 11 can do it, why not win?

  • udbhav1983 on May 3, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    Akash, why you aren't in a regular commenting team?

  • crikhardcore on May 3, 2013, 6:33 GMT

    Well I don't think he's only good in T-20 cricket.His recent form in ODI's has been nothing short of extraordinary(series against Pak and England) where he was the top scorer in nearly all the games.

  • Deepak_Kodela on May 3, 2013, 6:14 GMT

    I have only thing to complain regarding MSD. That is Dhoni playing almost every game for Team India & CSK. At this rate he will end up retiring by 2015 from Int'l Cricket. He needs to be rested for at least some ODI Games, especially involving SL which are primarily arranged only for money.

  • on May 3, 2013, 6:04 GMT

    Agree with Rohen, Dhoni still has along way to go in Tests and this I tell with utmost respect for what he has achieved in ODIs, T20Is and IPL. As Rahul Dravid suggested, he may reconsider his batting position in tests and should bat at no. 6 (home and abroad), with the assurance of a specialist batsman behind him. Currently, I would say Prior is the best wicket-keeper batsman and Clarke is the best captain in world cricket. Dhoni is a serious contender for both the title.

  • liteonon on May 3, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    Dhoni is a good t20 captain and a commanding batsman who can dictate terms for sure, but personally i like Dhoni to lead a team with second fringe players in the next ipl without not much star players like Raina, Hussey, Ashwin and go on to win the ipl like S.Warne able to acheive in 2008.

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on May 3, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    @ziaulhaq soofi: if csk had persisted with yo magesh they would not have got a mohit sharma.

  • SancricFan on May 3, 2013, 5:06 GMT

    He is a master strategist! His calmness and composure is exemplary.. I can recall one post-match presentation chat, where he confides.."When I came in both Raina and I were anxious. Lots of runs were to be scored. So I told him to play sensibly and let the heart rate come down, post which we can take chance..." Gosh! Now ability to think like that in that situation.. Hats off!! Planning + Execution = Awesomeness!! :)

  • kapilesh23 on May 3, 2013, 4:46 GMT

    Yes of course he is a great IPL T20 captain. T20 is actually the platform from which he took off as a captain of the Indian team. But if we talk only about his captainship in T20's I would not call him greatest captain in the world because apart from winning the world T20 2007 India are hardly a force in International T20. He is a great Ipl Captain that ends there. For his batting technique in Ipl we should not forget that Ipl is conducted in India the Flat Deck Haven. The same MS Dhoni in previous T20 internationals was found wanting while chasing the total on hard bouncy and seaming wickets. Cricinfo please publish.

  • on May 3, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    @palavadisuresh - IPL is played to win. Not to give chances. And he gave chances to Vijay, Raina, Ashwin, Badri, Gony, Tyagi, Jakati, Mohit Sharma, Ankit Rajpoot, Srikkanth Aniruddh, Saha, Parthiv Patel and more. SO please..

  • on May 3, 2013, 4:34 GMT

    Big fan of Dhoni........... he has a huge following in Lahore too.

  • palla.avinash on May 3, 2013, 4:14 GMT

    Mr Akash chopra what about Dhoni control in test cricket out side India you should write an article on it because even his tests except Chennai double i haven't seen him scoring runs.

  • AMAZINGFAN on May 3, 2013, 4:10 GMT

    great article aakash...yeh dhoni is certainly a giant in limited overs cricket...

  • CricketAkshay on May 3, 2013, 4:02 GMT

    Exactly. The on biggest asset is his ability to win matches from tougher situations while on fielding. He stays calm, desings the field, and has excellent fielders controlling the boundary line. That's the way to go. Also, he has a weakness. When width is offered to him, he clobbers it towards deep point area for fours. Perhaps a man at deep point would do the busniess.

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on May 3, 2013, 3:33 GMT

    unlike dravid or warne, one drawback is dhoni does not give opportunity or enough, to youngsters regardless what ever positions in point tabe. He always shows faith on few. Dravid's rajasthan royals gives opportunity or produce more younger talented players than csk. They are always warming in benches. Sunrisers and kings11 are other teams which give new young talented cricketters an opportunity.

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on May 3, 2013, 3:33 GMT

    unlike dravid or warne, one drawback is dhoni does not give opportunity or enough, to youngsters regardless what ever positions in point tabe. He always shows faith on few. Dravid's rajasthan royals gives opportunity or produce more younger talented players than csk. They are always warming in benches. Sunrisers and kings11 are other teams which give new young talented cricketters an opportunity.

  • CricketAkshay on May 3, 2013, 4:02 GMT

    Exactly. The on biggest asset is his ability to win matches from tougher situations while on fielding. He stays calm, desings the field, and has excellent fielders controlling the boundary line. That's the way to go. Also, he has a weakness. When width is offered to him, he clobbers it towards deep point area for fours. Perhaps a man at deep point would do the busniess.

  • AMAZINGFAN on May 3, 2013, 4:10 GMT

    great article aakash...yeh dhoni is certainly a giant in limited overs cricket...

  • palla.avinash on May 3, 2013, 4:14 GMT

    Mr Akash chopra what about Dhoni control in test cricket out side India you should write an article on it because even his tests except Chennai double i haven't seen him scoring runs.

  • on May 3, 2013, 4:34 GMT

    Big fan of Dhoni........... he has a huge following in Lahore too.

  • on May 3, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    @palavadisuresh - IPL is played to win. Not to give chances. And he gave chances to Vijay, Raina, Ashwin, Badri, Gony, Tyagi, Jakati, Mohit Sharma, Ankit Rajpoot, Srikkanth Aniruddh, Saha, Parthiv Patel and more. SO please..

  • kapilesh23 on May 3, 2013, 4:46 GMT

    Yes of course he is a great IPL T20 captain. T20 is actually the platform from which he took off as a captain of the Indian team. But if we talk only about his captainship in T20's I would not call him greatest captain in the world because apart from winning the world T20 2007 India are hardly a force in International T20. He is a great Ipl Captain that ends there. For his batting technique in Ipl we should not forget that Ipl is conducted in India the Flat Deck Haven. The same MS Dhoni in previous T20 internationals was found wanting while chasing the total on hard bouncy and seaming wickets. Cricinfo please publish.

  • SancricFan on May 3, 2013, 5:06 GMT

    He is a master strategist! His calmness and composure is exemplary.. I can recall one post-match presentation chat, where he confides.."When I came in both Raina and I were anxious. Lots of runs were to be scored. So I told him to play sensibly and let the heart rate come down, post which we can take chance..." Gosh! Now ability to think like that in that situation.. Hats off!! Planning + Execution = Awesomeness!! :)

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on May 3, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    @ziaulhaq soofi: if csk had persisted with yo magesh they would not have got a mohit sharma.

  • liteonon on May 3, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    Dhoni is a good t20 captain and a commanding batsman who can dictate terms for sure, but personally i like Dhoni to lead a team with second fringe players in the next ipl without not much star players like Raina, Hussey, Ashwin and go on to win the ipl like S.Warne able to acheive in 2008.