5 instances which prove that MS Dhoni is a genius

Winning Captain's Press Conference - 2011 ICC World Cup
MS Dhoni is a genius leader
Smit N. Shah

The epitome of calmness and creativity, MS Dhoni is a master finisher, a razor-sharp wicket-keeper, and a canny captain. One of India's most successful captain - Dhoni has won everything in ODIs and T20Is - The T20 World Cup (2007), ODI World Cup (2011), Champions Trophy 2013, IPL 2010 and 2011, and Champions League in 2010 and 2014.

Unorthodox is a word that describes MS Dhoni perfectly and is often associated with his batting, wicket-keeping, and captaincy. His strategies and those decisions that he takes on the field often leave the opposition, experts and fans astonished. As a captain, MS Dhoni always steps in with two plans and is quick to execute another plan C if the previous ones fail.

After trawling my mental database I have compiled a list of 5 such instances when MS Dhoni proved that he is the 'Einstien' of cricket.

#1 T20 World Cup 2007 - The first glimpse of MS Dhoni's intellect

India v Pakistan - ICC Twenty20 World Championship
Harbhajan Singh hits the stumps

Cricket fans and experts got the first glimpse of MS Dhoni's match awareness and intellect in his debut tournament as a captain - T20 World Cup 2007. MS Dhoni who was leading a group of talented youngsters motored India to a pleasantly unexpected World Cup victory.

Team India got a real push in the first match which was a nerve-racking encounter with arch-rivals Pakistan. The match ended in a tie and the result was to be decided with the help of a bowl-out.

The first strategic masterstroke came when Dhoni decided to choose Sehwag, Harbhajan, and Uthappa and not frontline pacers, as spinners tend to be more accurate.

Dhoni's second genius move was to sit on his knees right behind the stumps so that it becomes easier for the bowlers to spot and hit the target, unlike Kamran Akmal who stood outside off and way back, distracting the bowler. As a result of this ploy by the captain-creative, all three bowlers were able to hit the target snatching a victory from Pakistan who couldn't hit the stumps even once.

#2 IPL 2010 final CSK Vs MI - MS Dhoni's master plan for Kieron Pollard

MS Dhoni's master plan for Kieron Pollard resulted in his wicket

MS Dhoni's field placement is not the same for all batsmen. His placement of fielders is subject to the pitch, the match situation, and the strengths and weaknesses of the batsman at the crease.

This sometimes results in atypical fielding positions that leave the commentators and fans puzzled. The rationale behind such unique field placements is realized only after it results in the fall of wickets.

One such instance was in the year 2010, during the IPL final between CSK and MI. Kieron Pollard was going all guns blazing and was threatening to take the game away from CSK. That is when MS Dhoni decided to play to Pollard's strength, which is hitting powerfully down the ground.

He placed Matthew Hayden at a straightish mid-off position, next to the bowler, along with a regular long-off fielder as well. Apart from being a strategic and a rather unusual position the decision to place the 6' 2" Hayden at that position was also a smart one as hitting it over him would have been difficult.

Albie Morkel bowled it as per the field and Pollard fell into the trap, hitting it straight into those bucket-like hands of Hayden. The incredulous CSK players ran towards MS Dhoni in joy, but for him, it was just another well-executed strategy.

#3 World Cup 2011 - Promoting himself up the order

India v Sri Lanka - 2011 ICC World Cup Final
2011 ICC World Cup Final - MS Dhoni promoted himself up the order

It was the 2nd of April 2011, 1.25 billion people were on their feet. Some were cheering, some praying and the rest were biting off their nails. A fascinating blend of emotions - fear, excitement, hope, and happiness.

The city of Mumbai, which is always on the run, seemed to have halted and all eyes were fixed on just one location - Wankhede stadium, where it was the mighty Indians taking on the gritty Sri Lankans in the 2011 World Cup finals.

Sri Lanka had set a stiff target of 275. India started off poorly losing the opening pair of Sehwag and Sachin for a score of just 31. The two Delhi boys Kohli and Gambhir pulled things back slightly with an 83-run stand but Sri Lanka again struck with the wicket of Kohli.

Yuvraj Singh, who was in sublime form, was expected to come next but to everyone's surprise, it was the captain MS Dhoni who promoted himself up the order for a couple of reasons -

1. To maintain a left-hand right-hand combination with Gambhir on the crease. Dhoni is a strong believer in this batting combination as it makes it difficult for opposition bowlers to settle.

2. Although Yuvraj was in a great form, his weakness against right arm off spin is well studied by the opposition. With the maestro Muttiah Muralitharan in the attack, Dhoni was reluctant to let Yuvraj face him.

With the match-winning knock of 91* Dhoni lead India to a historic win.

#4 India tour of Australia 2014-15 - A leg slip for Steve Smith

Australia v India: 3rd Test - Day 4
Dhoni employed a leg slip for Steve Smith

MS Dhoni is a great observer and can read the batsman's mind as clearly as a fortuneteller. Dhoni's field-setting prowess is unmatched. In another such instance of apt field placing it was Steve Smith who fell prey.

In India's tour of Australia 2014-2015, the visitors were struggling with 2 losses in the first 2 tests of a 4-match series. The indomitable Steve Smith was at the zenith of his batting form having scored 2 big centuries and a half century as well. In the third test match too, Smith scored a flawless and awe-inspiring 192 in the first innings threatening to take the game away from India.

Having observed him from past 5 innings skipper MS Dhoni decided to play it to Smith's strength. Dhoni observed that Smith has a tendency to move across the stumps and flick the ball and thus placed Ajinkya Rahane at a conventional leg-slip position. Umesh Yadav did his bit by bowling a full-pitch delivery drifting in and tempting Smith to play his standard shuffle and flick shot resulting in a catch to the leg-slip fielder Rahane.

#5 T20 World Cup 2016 India Vs Bangladesh - Running out Mustafizur Rahman

South Africa v India - 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup
MS Dhoni

On 23rd March 2016, in the T20 World Cup, India were to face an upbeat Bangladesh in a super-10 encounter. India had set a target of 146 for Bangladesh. With just 11 required off the last over, and Mahmadullah and Mushfiqur at the crease, it seemed to be a pretty simple task. MS Dhoni's string of strategic masterstrokes started with handing over the ball to the young and inexperienced Hardik Pandya.

Pandya got hit for 9 runs in the first 3 deliveries and an over-confident Mushfiqur Rahim started to celebrate jubilantly as it was just 2 required of the last 3 deliveries. But iron-willed Pandya made a sensational comeback picking up 2 wickets in the next 2 balls.

With 2 required off the last ball, MS Dhoni smartly moved a couple steps closer to the stumps and also removed his right glove so as to gather and quickly throw the ball. As planned, Pandya bowled it short outside off and the batsman missed it. Then came the finishing masterstroke by MS Dhoni. Instead of throwing at the stumps he ran towards them and rattled them to run out Mustafizur Rahman and clinch a victory out of the jaws of defeat.

As they say, you should never celebrate early (especially when MSD is opposition captain).

Edited by Nishant Jayaram


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