October 5, 2012

Dhoni's batting problems in T20s

His strike rate is surprisingly low because he faces too many dot balls and doesn't hit enough boundaries

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.

Batsmen with lowest strike rates in T20Is (Qual: 500 balls faced)
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
Misbah-ul-Haq 39 788/ 715 37.52 110.20 111.99 0.98 3
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
* Strike rate in the matches featuring the player

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.

Strike rates of Indian batsmen in T20Is (Qual: 300 balls faced)
Batsman Matches Runs Balls Average Strike rate 50+ scores
Yuvraj Singh 29 667 461 30.31 144.68 5
Suresh Raina 32 768 564 33.39 136.17 4
Virat Kohli 16 463 358 38.58 129.32 4
Rohit Sharma 32 501 393 31.31 127.48 5
Gautam Gambhir 33 835 688 27.83 121.36 7
MS Dhoni 38 652 587 31.04 111.07 0

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.

How Dhoni has scored his runs in T20Is
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.

Batsmen with highest dot-ball percentage in the last ten overs in T20Is (Qual: 240 balls faced)
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
Misbah-ul-Haq 30 629/ 517 37.00 121.50 31.53 47.06
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.

Batsmen with lowest dot-ball percentages in last ten overs in T20Is (Qual: 240 balls faced)
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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 8, 2012, 7:05 GMT

    Sick people always hit the weaker side.. Why can't you feel the pressure that Dhoni generally faces when he comes to bat.Pressure is always built by the batsmen at top.

  • Dummy4 on October 6, 2012, 17:05 GMT

    should have considered the match situations, pitch and quality of bowlers faced,,,,, dhoni's knock may not be statistically good,, but his presence and runs in situations need to be understood,,

  • Chandra on October 6, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    Yes, he is playing slow, but we do not have enough stats build up on T20 to blame Dhoni being slow, ( for example check his IPL stat). Agreed, he is not in good of the forms, but that is because, he does not play early enough and get back in form, the reason being, he wanted, Openers, Rohit and Yuvi to be in the best form and they have been promoted, he is doing captain's job. May be time to chance. Open with Gamdhir and Rohit, followed by Kohli and Raina. Dhoni should come in at No.5 before Yuvi, the all rounder.

  • Dummy4 on October 6, 2012, 13:02 GMT


  • Dummy4 on October 6, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    @FormerMiner Totally agree with you! All people talking about Dhoni's strike rate are least qualified themselves....Aakash Chopra, Gavaskar, Manjrekar and Shastri, and now mr. S Rajesh...lol .

  • Dummy4 on October 6, 2012, 6:50 GMT

    This statistics is outrageous, shameless and biased. It does not consider match situations or overall team situation. Dhoni is being made out to be as a villain and being compared to other batsmen on strike rates?!! What about bringing out that Dhoni is a wicket keeper and the overall value he brings to the side. Let me remind everyone that before Dhoni we had keepers such as mongia, msk prasad and ratra, and India was a flop team who almost never won any tournament. Dhoni made us win 2 world cups as recent as 2011, if you call that as luck, add to it 2 IPLs, 1 CL (all T20 tournaments).

  • Aganthaka on October 6, 2012, 6:46 GMT

    Numbers do not lie.Most of us fans feel that the Dhoni batting deteriorated at a steady pace during his time as captain. IMO, Dhoni should be sacked as captain in all 3 formats and then judge his place in the team based on his batting performance alone. Such a move does lots of good to the team. Thanks for Rajesh for taking time in putting these numbers that showcases poor batting of Dhoni against his false popular image as an aggressive batsman.

  • Dummy4 on October 6, 2012, 6:43 GMT

    This statistics is crap and made out to for S Rajesh to show his personal bias towards Dhoni. It is strange that this statistics was brought up now.. and I am sure if India had won this T20, Mr. Rajesh would have not published this. I work in analytics and i know how this stuff rolls, you can tailor and highlight stats that you want to show.

    For example: 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.

    What about the batting position of each batsmen. Dhoni bats @7 and most times he does not get enough balls to face, and your talking about 50s? this is t20 cricket!!! not test matches...

  • Hafiz on October 6, 2012, 6:27 GMT

    nothing wrong with dhoni, top order batsmen failing consistently, they should give good start and platform for middle order and lower order batsmen......

  • Dummy4 on October 6, 2012, 5:31 GMT

    Include Rahane, Pujara and karthik instead of sehwag, gambhir and Dhoni then the batting will be formidable. Fast bowling, with replacements as Ishant, Awana, Mithun, Vinay, Umesh, praveen, varun India cannot be a gud side in fast bowling.

  • No featured comments at the moment.