Dhoni back to his brutal best

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Published: Thursday, February 17, 2011, 9:35 [IST]
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Dhoni back to his brutal best

One can scarcely recall the last time Indian skipper M S Dhoni played an innings of substance, let alone, belligerence. But with Thursday's vitriolic blitz against New Zealand where he blasted his way to 108 off a mere 64 balls, Mahi showed that he's back to his brutal best. He took to the strip at Chennai's Chepauk Stadium like a duck to water, rocking back and forth to unleash flourishes of raw ruthlessness, leaving a hapless opposition rattled and bemused.

When he swaggered to the crease with India's score at a healthy 148/3 in just under 30 overs, he was probably possessed with the intuition that the stage was set for an all-out assault. After a fruitless time with the bat where his prowess was on hiatus through last month's ODI tour of South Africa right upto Sunday's game against Australia, he must have sensed that this was his moment to regain form. And he grabbed it with both hands.

But up front, Dhoni wisely bided his time and gave Gautam Gambhir, who was already set, most of the strike. Then when Gambhir's violent innings culminated with a soft exit, Dhoni astutely took over the mantle of aggressor. After all, India had already crossed 200 and with over 10 overs left, big shots were fair game. He had tested the waters and now he was ready to set sail.

In the 40th over, he smoked a drive past long on for a four off Nathan McCullum. Then, he carted a powerful pick up off Scott Styris over deep mid-wicket. But he was only just finding his rhythm, which the subsequent bowlers were marked to bear the full brunt of... starting with Jacob Oram. Dhoni was particularly severe on this seamer, as in the 43rd over, he clobbered him for as many as five consecutive fours - four to square leg and one a savage straight drive.

It was clear Dhoni had shifted to Gear "Four" as two more boundaries came off his bat in the next over which Nathan McCullum had the misfortune of bowling. Then Suresh Raina, who had been relatively quiet till then, got into the act and smashed McCullum for a four himself. In the 45th over, Dhoni took a bit of backseat to watch Raina go berserk, as the southpaw lofted a desperate Oram for three almighty sixes.

Then Dhoni teamed up with Raina to knock a couple more boundaries off Kyle Mills in the 46th over, before the captain launched Tim Southee for a six, again over midwicket. Raina perished along the way, but Dhoni wouldn't back down and signed off the last over with another maximum, to take India to a mammoth 360/9.

It was a knock of deft sagacity and sheer brutality from Dhoni, a captain's innings in the most emphatic measure of the term. Now, isn't a shame that the match it came off was unofficial and hence his unbeaten century won't be counted? But if this was a dress rehearsal to the World Cup, then Dhoni showed that he was more than ready to give his best possible performance in the upcoming days of the Big Show...

Oneindia Cricket

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