Mahendra Singh Dhoni is undoubtedly one of the best finishers the world cricket has ever seen. He is popularly known for the calm and composed manner in which he goes about his innings. But this was not the case when he burst into international arena in 2004. Back then he was seen as flamboyant hard hitting batsman who was aggressive in his batting style. Former India coach Greg Chappell, while speaking on an online chat with the PlayWrite Foundation, called Dhoni the best finisher he has ever seen and recalled the impact he had on Dhoni’s Career.
Chappell said that the wicketkeeper-batsman was “the most powerful batsman” he had ever seen. He further added that he laid the foundation for the development of Dhoni from an aggressive flamboyant batsman to World’s best finisher.
He spoke about how he had once set a challenge for the former India captain that helped him to become one of the best finishers with the bat.
Nobody will forget Dhoni’s devastating 183 off 145 deliveries against Sri Lanka in 2005 – which still remains his highest ever score in One-day Internationals. Chappell elaborated on a conversation that he had with him after that match.
As it happened
“I remember having a conversation with him. We had a home series against Sri Lanka,” Chappell said. “Dhoni got a 180 in one game. He absolutely took them apart. He hit a lot of boundaries and he hit a lot of sixes.
“The next game was in Pune, and I remember having a conversation with him about his overall ability and I felt that if he just went through his career trying to hit boundaries and sixes, he may not achieve what he should achieve in cricket,” Chappell said.
“Now we talked about the fact that if he could learn to hit the ball along the ground as well…even though he was good at hitting boundaries, it was still a high-risk way of playing. If he could take some of that risk out of it, he could become one of the best finishers in world cricket,” he added.
“I remember that game in Pune, we didn’t have many to chase and when he came in, we had 80 or 100 runs to get,” the former India coach said.
“So, I threw him a challenge to see if he could get all of his runs along the ground. I said ‘We should win, but I want you to go out there and make sure we win it’,” Chappell said.
“You’re not allowed to hit the ball in the air until we’ve won the game,” he said. “Somehow, you’ve got to find the thrill in being the best finisher rather than one of the best hitters of boundaries and maybe be remembered for some exciting innings, because you could become the best finisher the game has ever seen.
“Luckily, he took the challenge, although I remember RP Singh was the 12th man, and mid-way through his innings, he came to me and said MS wants to know if he can hit the ball in the air now,” Chappell recalled.
“We still needed about 20 runs to win, so I said to RP ‘you go back and tell him, he can hit the ball in the air when we have won the game’.”
Needless to say, Dhoni kept his patience, but in his trademark style, finished the game off with a six.
“We got towards the end of the game and we needed four to win, and he hit the biggest six straight down the ground and he ran off waving his bat in the air and he ran past me and asked ‘is that alright coach?'”