Dhoni's batting problems in T20s
All stats updated till October 3, 2012
A couple of days ago, Aakash Chopra, one of ESPNcricinfo's regular columnists, tweeted: "Just stumbled upon Dhoni's strike rate in Twenty20 internationals - it's less than 110. Unbelievable, isn't it?"
All those who have seen MS Dhoni the ODI batsman in full flight will react similarly when they see his numbers in T20 internationals. (Since that tweet, Dhoni scored 23 off 13 against South Africa to lift his career strike rate marginally, to 111.07.) As an ODI player, Dhoni has been consistently enterprising, batting up the order in key games, taking the initiative, playing few dot balls, and hitting the big shots when required. The 2011 World Cup final was a good example, though there have been other instances when he has played decisive innings with the bat.
In ODIs, Dhoni has a strike rate of 88.42 and an average of 51.17. Among batsmen who have scored at least 2000 runs, Dhoni's strike rate is 15th out of 172 batsmen; with this cut-off, he is one of only three batsmen in the history of ODIs - Hashim Amla and Virat Kohli are the others - to have an 80-plus strike rate and a 50-plus average.
In T20 internationals, however, Dhoni's striking abilities seem to shrink drastically. He has had his moments in this format - he scored 36 off 18 in the 2007 World Twenty20 against Australia, and 46 off 28 against Sri Lanka in 2009 - but they have been too few and far between. Of the 17 times he has played at least 18 balls in an innings, only on five occasions has his strike rate exceeded 125. (Click here for his innings-wise list, sorted by balls faced.) Out of 29 batsmen who have faced at least 500 deliveries in T20 internationals, 24 have a better strike rate than Dhoni. The four who have poorer strike rates than him are all from Pakistan, and all of them have had the misfortune of playing plenty of games in the UAE, in conditions that aren't favourable for quick scoring.
The table below lists the batsmen with the lowest strike rates, and also lists the overall strike rates in the matches played by each batsman. In the case of Pakistan's batsmen, the strike rates are all between 110 and 115, while in Dhoni's case it's nearly 125. Taking a ratio between the player strike rate and the overall strike rate for each batsman, it's clear than Dhoni's ratio is lower than those of other batsmen, which means he has scored slowly in matches that were relatively higher-scoring than those that featured Pakistan's batsmen. Dhoni is the only one whose ratio is lower than 0.90.
|Batsman||Matches||Runs/ Balls||Average||Strike rate||Overall SR*||Ratio||50s|
|Salman Butt||24||595/ 551||28.33||107.98||115.30||0.94||3|
|Shoaib Malik||49||807/ 743||23.05||108.61||110.76||0.98||2|
|Mohammad Hafeez||39||769/ 702||20.78||109.54||112.75||0.97||2|
|MS Dhoni||38||652/ 587||31.04||111.07||124.68||0.89||0|
|Hamilton Masakadza||22||585/ 502||26.59||116.53||114.94||1.01||5|
|Umar Akmal||39||810/ 692||27.00||117.05||112.21||1.04||4|
|Jacques Kallis||25||666/ 558||35.05||119.35||118.52||1.01||5|
Among the six Indian batsmen who have faced at least 300 balls, Dhoni's strike rate is again easily the lowest. He is also the only one among them to have never scored a half-century.
|Batsman||Matches||Runs||Balls||Average||Strike rate||50+ scores|
Here's a look at how Dhoni scores his runs in T20 internationals. The dot-ball percentage is about 36, which is reasonable but should be lower for a batsman who bats in the middle and end overs, when the field is spread out and allows easy singles. His boundary percentage is also a relatively low 42.33, which shows he hasn't been explosive either.
|Dots||1s, 2s, 3s||4s, 6s||Dot %||Boundary%||Runs/ Balls|
|214||252, 59, 2||42, 18||36.46||42.33||652/ 587|
Since Dhoni mostly bats in the second half of a T20 innings - 569 of his 652 runs have come during this period - let's compare his numbers with those of other batsmen who have batted mostly during this period. Among the 27 batsmen who have faced at least 40 overs during the second halves of T20 innings, Dhoni's strike rate of 124.50 is fourth from the bottom.
What's more surprising is the fact that his dot-ball percentage is also fourth-highest among these 27 batsmen. In ODIs, Dhoni tends to work the ball into gaps and keep the score moving during the middle and end overs, but in the 20-over format he has struggled with that as well. The list of batsmen who have a higher dot-ball ratio includes Ireland's Gary Wilson. Leave him out, and only two batsmen out of 26 have a higher dot-ball ratio. Both of them, though, are players who believe in getting a high percentage of their runs in boundaries, thus offsetting, to an extent, the impact of those dot balls. Cameron White, for example, has a 34% dot-ball ratio, but he also has a boundary percentage of more than 56, which pushes up his overall strike rate to almost 140.
Similarly, Albie Morkel and Eoin Morgan have dot-ball percentages similar to Dhoni's, but their overall strike rates are much higher - 150-plus for both - because of their tendency to score in boundaries.
|Batsman||Innings||Runs/ balls||Average||Strike rate||Dot ball%||Boundary %|
|Gary Wilson||14||251/ 240||22.81||104.50||42.50||44.62|
|Abdul Razzaq||25||369/ 283||26.35||130.33||37.81||55.83|
|Cameron White||33||635/ 455||28.86||139.50||34.07||56.69|
|MS Dhoni||32||569/ 457||40.64||124.50||32.60||45.34|
|Albie Morkel||28||477/ 308||29.81||154.83||32.47||63.73|
|Eoin Morgan||25||600/ 395||35.29||151.83||32.15||59.67|
|Scott Styris||21||332/ 266||17.47||124.67||31.95||47.59|
|Jacob Oram||27||442/ 297||21.04||148.67||31.65||61.54|
|Shoaib Malik||35||485/ 411||19.40||118.00||31.14||42.89|
On the other hand, here's the list of batsmen Dhoni should aspire towards: those who have the lowest dot-ball percentages - all lower than 28, and, apart from Angelo Mathews, strike rates of more than 140. The ideal stats belong to Michael Hussey: extremely low dot-ball percentage, fairly high boundary ratio, and a high average as well. AB de Villiers has outstanding numbers too, with a dot-ball ratio of only 25%.
Among the Indians, Suresh Raina has a relatively low dot percentage, but his boundary-hitting stats are even more impressive: almost 60% of his runs have come in fours and sixes, which significantly boosts his overall strike rate to 148.
Question marks have been raised over Dhoni's captaincy in the 2012 World Twenty20, but these stats show that his batting has generally been below par as well. For a batsman who is such a fine striker of the ball, they are pretty underwhelming numbers.
|Batsman||Innings||Runs/ Balls||Average||Strike rate||Dot-ball %||Boundary %|
|Paul Collingwood||23||417/ 266||19.85||156.67||23.31||57.07|
|Michael Hussey||23||537/ 346||44.75||155.17||23.70||55.12|
|AB de Villiers||20||457/ 316||35.15||144.50||25.32||48.14|
|Brendon McCullum||24||565/ 346||29.73||163.17||25.72||62.30|
|Angelo Mathews||24||332/ 262||22.13||126.67||27.10||40.96|
|David Hussey||26||547/ 371||23.78||147.33||27.49||54.11|
|Dwayne Bravo||18||354/ 240||29.50||147.50||27.50||49.72|
|Suresh Raina||19||465/ 314||33.21||148.00||27.71||59.35|
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter