IPL 2019: MS Dhoni and the art of chasing
- Even after 15 years of death-defying performances, Dhoni's behavior in run chases remains thoroughly unpredictable.
His face reveals nothing. He plays as if there is a chart that runs through his head which tells him exactly what to do. And as long as he is there at the crease, the team has the chance to win.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been an enigma to world cricket, and without a shadow of a doubt will go down as one of the greatest finishers limited overs cricket has ever seen. No batsman has thrilled cricket lovers and provided them so many nerve-racking moments the way Dhoni has done over the course of his legendary 15 year career.
Who can ever forget that epic 111-metre six that Dhoni smashed off Clint McKay at the Adelaide Oval, when India required 12 runs to win off the last over? Or the 19 runs that Dhoni plundered off Irfan Pathan against Kings XI Punjab, to take CSK to one of their most famous IPL wins ever? Or those two sixes that he smashed off Axar Patel, when his side required 12 runs off the last two deliveries?
The best part is that at no point has anyone been able to say, "Hey, now is the time Dhoni will start the fireworks." Dhoni's methods are still unpredictable, even after 15 years of death-defying performances.
And that is the most ironic part of the Dhoni phenomenon. The more we get to see Dhoni, the more inaccessible he seems to get. And with each passing year, the mask around the great man has only thickened.
Against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2019 a couple of days ago, Dhoni almost pulled off a miracle. The way he steered the chase, the way he backed himself, almost gave us the feeling that he was steering the match in whichever direction he wanted to.
That is exactly what great players can do. They can make other mortals fade into the shadows, and make you feel that they are in total control.
Over the course of a career that has lasted almost a decade and a half, Dhoni has carved out a niche for himself, and has become the most worshiped cricketer after the incomparable Sachin Tendulkar. It's not hard to see why.
The 2019 World Cup might be the last for the legendary cricketer, after which he will most likely walk into the sunset, and bring down the curtains on his unprecedented career. But when he retires, we can all be sure of this - there will never be another cricketer who turns chasing into an art form the way Dhoni did.
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