With the end of the ‘Payback Series’ and whitewash of England, a debate arises whether M.S. Dhoni is indeed the best finisher of the current cricketing era?. As a skipper Dhoni has been phenomenal however, being a great finisher is a different ballgame altogether. A few years back this raunchy lad from Ranchi was never heard of. If asked about Dhoni at that time someone would surely ask, “Dhoni who?”. He sure has come a long way from being a Railway Ticket Collector in Kharagpur to the ‘Captain Cool’ of the Indian cricket team. In order to decide if the claims made by the experts for Mahi have any merit, we firstly need analyse his strengths and weaknesses as a finisher and then compare them to the all-time greatest finishers of the game.
So, let’s begin with M.S. Dhoni, shall we?
We all know about the change in his batting style since he took over the captaincy. It was a much discussed topic and a lot has already been written about it. This was a mature decision on his part and more responsible in keeping with his status as the skipper. You don’t really see the rocket shots from his blade and super pacy innings these days. His 183* against the much coveted bowling attack of the Lankans was a brilliant example of what we call ‘Ball Bashing’. Since taking over the captaincy he has not made many big centuries as he bats at number 5 or 6 but he still has the uncanny ability to finish off the game with a flourish. It is this style of his game that’s got his name among the very best finishers in the ODI format. The Crowning Jewel in his ‘Taj’, the 91* in the World Cup 2011 final was reached in the same style. His stats are also amongst the best and rivalled by a few.
196 matches, 175 innings, 48 not outs, 183* highest, 51.15 average, 6497 runs, 88.52 strike rate, 7 - 100s, 43 - 50s.
Such numbers have been achieved only by Michael Bevan, Michael Hussey, and a couple of other players. The difference you ask? They are now considered legends.
Most of the fans today associate finishing of a game with the players ability to hit those huge shots. Which is quintessential part of being a great finisher however, the player should also be a quick runner between the wickets. Dhoni fits the bill perfectly now, doesn’t he? Apart from fitting the role perfectly he also reads the game very well and is also ice cool in a pressure situation. He becomes like an itch in the nose of the opposition that they just can’t stop scratching. He has the opposition under constant pressure when at the crease. When the fielders are outside the circle he does not miss a single or a double coming his way and if the fielders are inside the circle he does not miss any opportunity to guide the ball towards the boundary rope branding him as one of the best finishers of the game.
Now, there is a small system malfunction it seems or shall we call it a small glitch. No doubt about him being the best captain and all but, when you compare him with the best finishers of the game like Hussey, Bevan and Inzamam, I don’t really see Dhoni winning this comparison.
Time to compare Mahendra Singh Dhoni with other lads now.
He is regarded as the best ODI player. Cometh the moment, cometh the man. Yes, you guessed it right, Michael Bevan. He was a wonderful reader of the game. His ability to stabilize the game when in need with the quick ones and twos and then upping the tempo with the boundaries made him a great finisher that he is. To sum it up in a few words, ‘A Legend’.
Probably one of the key reasons for Australia’s dominance in ODI’s.
The second one comes from the land of Kangaroos as well. Long before the baton was handed down to Bevan, there lived a fantastic cricketer. At a time when West Indians ruled the cricketing world and Richards wreaked havoc on the bowlers, came along a defiant Aussie and changed a lot of equations. Yeah, we are speaking about Dean Jones. Probably, the first specialist One Day cricketer. He was best at finding the gaps at any point in the game and a pioneer at milking the middle overs only to finish off with a four. Well, not always but most of the times.
The third one on our list is a big man of cricket. One of the most stylish man of cricket with his ‘out of the bed’ looks. He is everything that a conventional cricketer is not supposed to be. No points for guessing, our man is Inzamam ul Haq. Despite everything you’ve got to say, he was one of the best finishers.
His mastery to take on any situation was beyond comparison. He sure did have a cool head upon that massive body. Yeah, it’s true that sometimes he did lose it when someone called him ‘Aloo’ or ‘Bhaloo’ but a great cricketer nonetheless.
The fourth one comes from the most unfortunate team in the cricketing history. Some people just love to ridicule the Zulu and think he is a choker but he sure was the best hunter when it came to finishing. Yeah, our choker is Lance Klusener. He surely justified his name ‘Lance’ with shots that he played. His shot to fame was the 1999 World Cup, where his blade terrorized the bowlers. He was an absolute nightmare for the opposing team bowlers when in mood.
Though, he loses a lot of brownies for not being a good communicator between the wickets.
Well, the next in line is yet another Aussie. What? No! Not another Aussie, please! Be cool, be calm. Once you hear the name I’m sure you will have to agree with me. Yes, I’m speaking about Michael Hussey. The crown for the best finisher in cricket has been handed down to Michael Hussey. He’s always calm and collected in pressure situations and gives a feeling that he knows what he is doing and has a plan for everything. He can bat aggressively or can just accumulate singles and doubles when cruising. He has shown the ability to hold things together at any batting position. He may not be the as great as Bevan or Inzy or Miandad but he sure has made his bones to be in this list.
Now, when you compare Dhoni with the greats, you will notice that there are multiple reasons. He sometimes tends to get stuck in a rut and comes up with disasters once in a while. Well, you might say it’s because he is the skipper and has to be responsible but in being responsible he tends to go into a shell and misses scoring opportunities. It’s one of these off days that he needs to be careful about where he messes up his reputation as a finisher. Completely agree that he can’t bat like the way he ravaged a depleted Pakistani side in the yesteryears, since he is the anchor of the team. The Avatar of a slow and steady finisher suits him well. After all, he was the only man we could remember from the much forgettable tour of England. Moreover, to be considered a greatest finisher of the game, he still has to prove his mettle on the foreign soil.
Unlike the greatest finishers, he is one who is a complete cricketer and there is no competition or doubts about that. He has adorned a lot of different hats in the game of cricket. If there is any list or rankings for complete cricketers I’m sure MSD would top it. But, considering him the best finisher of all time, a loud and resounding ‘NO’. Well, at least from me.
So, I’ll leave the final choice to you the readers, what do ‘YOU’ think.
Is Mahendra Singh Dhoni the best finisher?
PS:- I know I’ve missed a lot of cricketing greats in the list. Feel free to add some in the comments if you feel they deserve to be there. Peace on you.