First comes acclimatisation, during which time he assesses the situation, pace of the pitch, state of the bowling. If a hittable delivery comes along he will take advantage but otherwise he accumulates, quietly and unobtrusively, a flick here, a nudge there. This is a calculating man, though, his brain ticking all the while. While he is at the crease, batting is almost reduced to a mathematical equation. The assault, when it comes, is clinical in its conception and brutal in execution.
The helicopter shot is quintessential Dhoni, a fusion of timing and wrists and brute power generated from massively strong forearms. It’s a beautiful blend of rustic intelligence and studious analysis, a shot that defines the character of its practitioner. It’s a stroke Dhoni used to employ with no little success in the early stages of his career, but with growing time and greater responsibilities, he tended to rely on it increasingly sparsely.
It came to a point where Dhoni could no longer summon his patented stroke when he desired. He tried it – the big backlift, the bat coming in a scything arc to meet the fullish delivery, the snap of the wrists at the last minute and the strong forearms propelling the ball aerially – but only towards, not beyond, the long-on boundary.