An epitome of confidence and self-believe, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has given so many memories to Indian cricket. Time and again, the former India skipper has shown why he is regarded as the best finisher in the world.
Every time the game has gone to the last over of the chase and MS Dhoni is at the crease, the captain cool has chase down the total in style. To recall a couple of those memories, in this article, I have listed down two occasions when Dhoni has played his best innings in the history of IPL.
CSK VS Kings XI Punjab : MS Dhoni hits 16 runs in the last over off Irfan Pathan
Unarguably, Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays the biggest role in turning CSK’s fortunes over the years. Chennai Super Kings is the most successful team in the IPL and is regarded as the favourites in every season. However, before this innings, Chennai Super Kings were treated as a good team but not the best, having made it to the semi-finals twice, but haven’t’ won anything. And then came MS Dhoni’s heroics which literally changed CSK’s fortune in the cash-rich league.
Having made it to the semi-finals in the previous two seasons, CSK had locked horns with Kings Eleven Punjab and a win could get them in the semi-finals for the third test in a row. Kings Eleven then were a team to wary of, having the likes of Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Yuvraj Singh in their side. Batting first, Kings Eleven Punjab had posted a mammoth 192 runs in the first innings, courtesy a brilliant inning by Shaun Marsh. He scored 88 runs in the 57 balls and mind you, 192 in those days was nine of ten times an impossible total to chase down and that too in a such an important game.
In reply, Chennai Super Kings had lost both their openers early, with Hayden and Murli Vijay back in the pavilion inside four overs as the scoreboard read 27 for 2. However, Suresh Raina and S Badrinath started the rescue act, who put on a formidable 62-run partnership before Raina got out in the 10th overs of the innings. In comes, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and SCK were requiring 102 runs off the last ten overs. Dhoni and Badrinath took the game further as 70 runs were needed in the last six. Fours overs to go and 52 runs were needed and CSK had lost Badrinath too. 44 were needed in the three overs. Chennai Super Kings fans had almost lost the hopes as the match was looking out of their hand. However, MS Dhoni-the finisher was still at the crease. 29 to get in two overs and then it was down to last over and sixteen runs were needed and Irfan Pathan had the ball in his hand facing the best finisher in the world.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the game with two balls still left to play in the match and CSK were into the semi-finals and went on to win that season’s title for the first time in their IPL journey. That innings from MS Dhoni is still one of the best innings he has ever played in his life. Dhoni made 54 runs of 29 deliveries, including five fours and two sixes at a strike rate of 186.20.
RPS VS KXIP : MS Dhoni smashing 23 runs off the last over to Akshar Patel
The opposition was the same but this team, Dhoni himself was donning a different jersey.
An unbelievable act, a treat to every eye except for Axar Patel who was at the receiving end, bowling the final over of the match.
Batting first, once again Kings Eleven Punjab posted a decent 172-run total on the board. Openers Hashim Amla and Murli Vijay gave Punjab an ideal start, having made 60 runs in the first seven overs before Amla fell at the hands of Ashwin on 30. Skipper Vijay scored a brilliant half-century, however, young Gurkeerat Singh played an even more impressive inning, who scored a quick 51 off 30 balls to guide Punjab to 172 at the end of 20 overs.
Rising Pune Supergiants, in reply, lost four crucial wickets inside 12 overs. The team were tottering at 80 for 4 at the end of 12 overs and, in comes Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Dhoni formed a formidable partnership with Thisara Perera who scored a quick 23 off 14 before he got out at the start of 19 overs. Once again, the match had gone to the last over and MS Dhoni was at the strike facing an under-pressure Axar Patel. 23 runs were needed of last six balls, as hopes looked bleak for RPS.
First ball, no run, Dhoni didn’t take a single, cool as a cucumber. It was now 23 needed of just five. A supremely confident hits the ball out of the park the next ball, as the equation came down to 16 off four balls. Dhoni hits the next ball to the off side and once again Dhoni’s didn’t run, a dot ball. 16 needed off three now. Patel pitched the next ball short and wide, one bounce and four. 12 needed off last two. Dhoni hits a six, huge, unbelievable from MS Dhoni. You won’t believe but that match has come down to 6 needed off one ball. Can Dhoni hit a six and win the game for his side, yes he can. Dhoni hits another maximum. Dhoni, You Beauty!