MS Dhoni didn’t tread the conventional route, especially when he was skipper of the Indian national cricket team. The 38-year-old was instinctive in his decision making and stayed oblivious of the noise around him. On the backs of his skills, he took India to greater heights, irrespective of the format of the game.
Though some of his strategies floundered, plethora of them worked wonders. A number of his tactics defied logic, but they clicked for Team India. Dhoni had to face a lot of criticism for his tactics, but he carried on his own merry way.
The Jharkhand-born is an incredible reader of the game and no amount of pressure could disturb his mental tranquility. India won all the ICC trophies under Dhoni and they came courtesy Dhoni’s bold moves. Even his IPL franchises have been benefitted.
In the article, let’s take a look at five of the most surprising decisions from MS Dhoni: –
1. Opting for Joginder Sharma in the final over the 2007 T20 WC Final
On September 24, 2007, MS Dhoni took a decision that gave India its maiden T20 World Cup title. In the last over of the final, Pakistan needed 13 runs with a well-set Misbah-ul-Haq in the middle. Dhoni had to make a choice between rookie Joginder Sharma and the experienced Harbhajan Singh.
However, the skipper went for Joginder, who well and truly felt the pressure in the first two balls. With Pakistan needing six off four, the odds were heavily stacked against India. But Sharma somehow held his nerves and dismissed Misbah to take India home.
The bowler finished with an economy of 5.71 and he also got rid of Younis Khan. Dhoni’s decision to not give Harbhajan the last over was logical, statistically. In that game, the tweaker gave away as many as 36 runs in three overs.
2. Promoting himself in the 2011 WC Final
Yuvraj Singh was arguably India’s standout batter in the middle-order during the 2011 World Cup. Scoring 362 runs at an average of 90.50, more often than not, he carried on the good work by the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag.
In the final against Sri Lanka, India needed the southpaw to be at his best with the Men in Blue needing 161 runs in the last 28.2 overs. But to the surprise of many, MS Dhoni promoted himself up to five ahead of Yuvraj.
Prior to that game at the Wankhede Stadium, Dhoni had only managed 150 runs and wasn’t at his best. To his relief, he scored 91 runs off 79 balls to bag the Player of the Match award. Yuvraj did have his role to play as he came in with India needing 52 at a run-a-ball. The left-hander stayed unbeaten on 21 runs.
3. Bizarre rotation policy in the 2012 VB series
In the 2012 ODI tri-series in Australia, also involving Sri Lanka, Dhoni resorted to some strange decisions. He said that he’s going to apply a rotation policy, meaning that the senior trio of Tendulkar, Gambhir and Sehwag won’t be featuring in the same playing eleven. The tactic didn’t work at least in the triangular series as the Aussies and Lankans managed to qualify for the final.
As per Dhoni, he wanted to give the benched players adequate chances to prove their mettle at the highest level. He wanted the players to be fit and not get injured.
However, Dhoni’s decision didn’t go down well with a number of cricketers. Bishen Singh Bedi called it devoid of logic. Later in 2018, after retiring from cricket, Gautam Gambhir slammed the former Indian skipper for the policy.
4. Forming CSK’s ‘Dad’s Army’
In 2018, Chennai Super Kings made their comeback to the Indian Premier League (IPL) after their two-year suspension period. MS Dhoni also came back to the team following his stint with the Rising Pune Supergiant. However, in the auction, the Yellow Army picked lots of players, who were above 30s and some even nearing the 40s.
Due to the average age, CSK got the name of ‘Dad’s Army. The team wasn’t expected to shine, but CSK managed to defy other odds. Shane Watson, who retired from international cricket in 2016, smashed a couple of centuries, one of which came in the final.
His ton in the final against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in Mumbai gave the Kings their third IPL title. Dhoni, who was 36 then, was at his very best, playing the role of captain and finisher with precision.
5. Trusting Ishant Sharma in 2013 CT Final
The final of the 2013 Champions Trophy between hosts England and India had to be curtailed. It was a 20-over affair, and though it was low-scoring, the match kept one and all at the edge throughout. MS Dhoni, who was in the thick of things, had to make some tough calls.
One of them selecting one among Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. In the end, he opted for Ishant. It was a tad baffling since Ishant had leaked 27 runs in his three overs prior to his final over.
The decision also raised eyebrows because Kumar and Umesh were pretty economical. With the Brits needing 28 off 18, Ishant gave eight runs in his first two balls. But he made a stupendous comeback, getting rid of both set batters- Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara. In the end, India won by five runs.
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