For someone who was mocked as an old warhorse and heavily criticised for his exploits on the field, Mahendra Singh Dhoni made his critics eat their own words on the back of a 'Man of the Series performance' that allowed Team India to script the historic ODI series win in Australia. Thriving in his new role as a sheet anchor, Dhoni continued to impress in the series to follow.
In fact, his absence in the last two ODI against Australia was one of the pivotal reasons why India ended up throwing away their 2-0 lead to eventually lose the five-match series 3-2. Whether it's his batting, wicket-keeping or impeccable know-how of the game, Dhoni remains an asset that will undeniably bolster any side he plays for.
And, as the cricketers gear up to shed their national colours to pledge allegiance to their respective franchises, the twelfth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is set for a cracking opening clash between Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on 23rd March.March 14, 2019
With the IPL opener pitting two of the biggest names in cricket - Dhoni and Virat Kohli - against each other, the RCB and its captain faces a major roadblock in the Jharkhand cricketer whose Herculean stats can undoubtedly spoil the party for the Bangalore-based franchise.
A key player for CSK, Dhoni has played 175 matches in the IPL so far. He is only second, behind his teammate Suresh Raina, in the list of most games played by a cricketer in the history of India's cash-rich T20 tournament. Out of the 159 games, where he led CSK, Dhoni has managed to win 94 matches - most by any captain in the IPL.
His winning rate of 59.49 is another key factor that shows his leadership skills. He is only behind Steve Smith who boasts of a brilliant winning rate of 66.6 to lead the charts in the IPL. Dhoni's winning rate is one of the biggest reasons why Chennai has managed to win the IPL title on three occasions - the joint most in the T20 tournament alongside Mumbai Indians.
On the other hand, Dhoni is also one of the three captains to have won multiple IPL trophies as captain with the same franchise. He achieved the feat last season after guiding CSK to the 2018 IPL title. Dhoni had earlier won the title with CSK in 2010 and 2011. He is joined by Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma - who won the IPL titles with Kolkata Knight Riders (in 2012 & 2014) and Mumbai Indians (in 2013, 2015 & 2017) respectively - in the elite list.
But, if you thought Dhoni's milestones with his team are amazing, wait till you hear about his personal achievements.
A proven leader for CSK in the IPL, Dhoni's individual feats are second to none. The former Indian captain is currently placed second in the list of most runs scored by a CSK player, only behind Raina, in the tournament. In the overall list, Dhoni stands at the seventh spot.
When it comes to hitting big, Dhoni also holds the record of most sixes by an Indian player in the tournament. With 186 sixes to his name, Dhoni is only behind Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers who have slammed 292 and 187 maximums respectively.
In the wicket-keeping department, Dhoni has effected 116 dismissals so far in the IPL. He is second only to Dinesh Karthik who has 124 dismissals to his name from behind the stumps.
While Dhoni's stats in the tournament undoubtedly make him a key player, Chennai will still need to be at their prolific best if they intend to carry on their winning momentum from last season when they lock horns with Kohli-led RCB at the MA Chidambaram stadium this Saturday.