Mahendra Singh Dhoni's finishing act, the magic and the math
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He may not end up as the top run-getter in ODIs. But he will always remain Indian cricket's Mr Dependable in tight chases
Virat Kohli has more hundreds than Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Virender Sehwag has a better strike rate than the skipper and Yuvraj Singh, more runs. And none of them happen to be in the 10,000-runs club, unlike Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. So what is the big hype around Dhoni, the ODI batsman? It is actually an unconventional statistic, the kind that doesn't appear on TV screens while a player takes guard, which explains why Dhoni doesn't need to sit atop the run-getter's podium to reach lofty heights of fame and greatness.
Dhoni has seen India cross the line while still at the crease an unprecedented 34 times in his ODI career. On 15 of these occasions, he has sealed the win by sending the ball sprinting to the ropes or flying into the stands. Most times, it is the latter, and that too in games as important as the World Cup final or as close as the tri-series final in Port of Spain last week, where India won by a wicket in the final over. Only once in his career has Dhoni remained unbeaten in a lost chase.
The final swing of Dhoni's bat, bowler shaking his head in disbelief, fielders slumping around on the turf, crowds erupting and a blue stream of his wildly celebrating teammates trickling out from the dressing room to flood the field: Venues can change but this is the familiar aftermath of all such Dhoni specials.
Untouched by this outpouring of emotions around him, the man of the moment would walk to the pavilion with the casualness of a 9-to-5 worker returning home after a hard but satisfying day at office. The bat in his hand can pass as a briefcase and that souvenir stump, mostly tucked under his arm, a curio collected on a memorable official trip. Firefighters don't pump fists or run amok in celebration after conquering the flames. Dhoni, someone with roughly the same job profile in the playing XI, seems to follow the same work ethic. He is paid well to do a job, and he does it without fear or fuss.