It was about time now.
Dhoni’s strike rate before 2015:
First 5 balls —106
After 10 balls—122
It was Dhoni’s way of kicking off his innings. It was his way of warming up the engine before starting the Mayhem. What better than, if you can get into the groove and also keep the scoreboard ticking ?Added benefit: The lurking bowlers are denied any chance to set you up.
It was so obvious that no one paid attention to it. Technology sometimes makes us over-analyse simple things. Even if anyone took notice, Dhoni always had his way around. He could smash them from ball one,forcing captains back to defense.
Dhoni was 33 now. He could still smash any bowler out of the park but now he needed some time at the start to get himself in. Captains realised that Dhoni was not prepared to take risk from the onset. So they brought one more fielder in to plug the gap and cut off those easy singles.
Why do you think Gambhir used to set this ‘Test match-like’ field for Dhoni?
Now Dhoni found himself in predicament and before he knew he had already played out 5 dot balls. As a result,pressure soared.
This is evident from his numbers.
Dhoni’s strike rate after 2015:
First 5 balls— 76
After 10 balls—97.
Dhoni came up with various counter strategies. For example he replaced his pads with the new morrant pads which enables nimble feet movements. It wasn’t that he was not scoring runs. Once he managed to get himself in,he could still bludgeon bowlers like he has done all through out his career.
Then came IPL 2018 and it brought with it the New avatar of MS Dhoni. The field was still set for the same Dhoni. And he caught everyone off-guard,even his most dedicated of fans. The message was loud and clear.
It’s a reminder that he’s the same Dhoni who tossed up the ball to Joginder Sharma and won India the World cup. It’s the same Dhoni who used to catch oppositions off guard with his gut-feel driven captaincy. If he could do it in the past,he’s good enough to do it now aswell.