Over the years, MS Dhoni has given us many scintillating moments on the cricketing field. There is no doubt that he has been a champion for the Indian cricket team and has taken the cricket in this region to a whole new level.
But one performance that always comes to mind when you take his name is that inning against Sri Lanka in which he gave a glimpse of how devastating he can be in the 50-over format.
The year was 2005 and the date was October 31, India was about to play the Islanders in the third ODI of the series. A day before the match, skipper Rahul Dravid decided that Dhoni will come in at No. 3, making him the latest player in a long list of experiments that saw even Irfan Pathan be promoted in the batting order.
Electing to bat first, Sri Lanka managed to put 298 on the scoreboard, thanks to a blistering inning of 137 played by the wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara.
While coming out to bat, the Little Master Sachin Tendulkar went back to the pavilion in the first over of the Indian innings. Dhoni came at the crease and stood alongside Virender Sehwag. Two attacking batsmen were at the crease and one had to take the charge. 9 out of 10 times it would have been Sehwag taking the aggressive approach but this was Dhoni’s chance and he did not let the chance go.
The score was just 9 when Dhoni lifted the legendary Sri Lankan fast bowler Chaminda Vaas over the covers. Experts went on to say that he is a modern player, who does not believe in the technique. But, it was something India had to get used to over the next one year. Farveez Maharoof was brought into the attack and pitched the ball further up, but Dhoni’s golf-like swing sent it sailing back. The following delivery was floated up next to the off stump, and Dhoni slapped the ball and sent it flying right in the line of the cameras.
Interestingly, when the spinners were introduced, the then 24-year-old did not come out charging down the track to hit them for a six. Instead, he stayed inside the crease and struck the ball as hard as he can. The fielders spread out, but they were of little use because Dhoni used brute force to sent the deliveries beyond the boundary ropes.
A motionless Sri Lanka skipper Marvan Atapattu just stood there and was unable to find any kind of answers to this young man from Jharkhand. He completed his 100 by driving the ball over point and even Sehwag could not help but praise the youngster for his thunderous inning.
But the game was not over and he fell like lightning bolt on the other Sri Lankan bowlers too.
Muttiah Muralitharan, one of the greatest bowlers of all time, was brought into the attack. Everyone was keen on seeing how the youngster would face a world-class bowler like Muttiah. The bowler changed, but Dhoni’s ferocity did not. He kept on hitting Muttiah for sixes on both sides of the ground. The whole world believed that he truly is one of the special talents.
After completing his century, his body started to feel the heat. He was limping and struggling to run fast between the wickets. A limping Dhoni then decided to deal in maximums, not wanting to waste much time. With Venugopal Rao for the company, Dhoni hit two consecutive sixes to finish things off, striking the air with his bat as he celebrated a mesmerizing chase and a personal milestone.
This inning will give birth to a legendary Indian player, who would go on to become one of the most destructive batsmen in the world and one of the best finishers of the game. You can say anything about his form in the recent past but everyone knows in the heart that till the time Dhoni is in the team, India have a chance of winning that game with much ease.
About the Author
Sports Journalist by profession, a Cricket Fanatic by passion. Aayush Sharma has been following the game of cricket since childhood and considers Sachin Tendulkar as his idol. When in free time, he loves to read books or go out and play some gully cricket with friends. For him, Tennis ace Roger Federer and F1 Legend Michael Schumacher are the only sportspersons that reach the level of Tendulkar