In a recent article, MS Dhoni's method of finishing one day games was put under the microscope.
It's worth a read in itself, but as the Indian skipper has been at the last over finish again, I wanted to look at Dhoni's method from the viewpoint of a non-professional batsman.
Can a club or school player emulate this method in their games, or does the Indian's rare genius and skill mean you would be foolish to try?
How Dhoni Wins ODIs
If you didn't read the article, the key points are:
• 1166 runs in 27 innings at 83.28
• An obvious delay in his charge for the target, only hitting more than 6 per over in the last 5 overs.
• Happy to wait for a bad ball than rotate the strike (high dot ball percentage early on).
• A predominantly straight bat, playing high percentage cricket.
• The ability to score quickly over the leg side.
Clearly, the headline figure is the runs scored, but the interesting part is how Dhoni goes about pacing his innings.
For a batter with a lot of power, he plays in a surprisingly "old fashioned" way. He plays straight, puts away the bad ball, and calmly waits.
Such is his confidence, he seems to be happy letting the required rate climb, safe in the knowledge he can easily score 50 runs in the last 5 overs.
As S Rajesh says, "He has guided the team when wickets have fallen around him, consolidated during the middle stages of the innings, and been there during the slog overs, performing each role to perfection."
Finish like Dhoni
The last 5 over onslaught aside, everything described so far is possible to emulate by a lesser mortal.
Possible, but not easy.
First, you need to adapt to your own ability to score in the final overs, and for most players this means keeping the run rate in the 5 per over range, even in the last few overs.
Unless you know you can go big effectively at the end, and you have wickets in hand on a good batting track, fives are just possible to get for most batters in most situations, but will keep the bowling side interested.
However, with that number in mind instead of the tens that Dhoni can score, you can go about things the same way.
1. Play the percentages. A straight bat is still the best way to score runs consistently.
2. Stay calm under dot ball pressure. Most batters face a few dots in a chase and feel they need a "get out" shot. Your ability to stay calm and focused will keep you in the chase rather than slogging one up in the air.
3. Go big at the right time. Of course in most chases, you will need to go big to get over the line. Have 1 or 2 higher risk shots that you are confident of playing and have practiced.
In many ways a chase is more about confidence in your ability than technique. One feeds the other, but if you master the basics and have a reliable higher risk shot you are technically set to follow Dhoni's finishing method.
One way to work on the mental side of a chase is to use scenario batting in nets. BATEX is a great example of a simple way to adapt nets to a chase like this.
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