Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the standout performer in the recently-concluded three-ODI series in Australia as the visitors defeated the home side 2-1 for their win in a bilateral series Down Under.
Dhoni scored three fifties in the three ODIs and was at the crease to guide India home in the last two matches in Adelaide and Melbourne.
He went on to score 87 not out off 114 balls to steer India past Australia’s 230-run target.
While he was walking to the crease, Dhoni received a rousing welcome at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Dhoni won the Man of the Series award for his heroics in the ODI series against Australia. He became the oldest Indian to be adjudged player of the series since Sunil Gavaskar who achieved the feat against Sri Lanka in 1987.
The three ODIs Down Under followed the four-Test series between the two rivals. India registered a historic 2-1 win the series. It was the first time a touring Indian side had defeated Australia in a Test series in their 71 years of touring Down Under.
Chappell saluted the former India skipper’s nerve and longevity.
“Nobody has Dhoni’s nerve for finishing off victories. Many times I’ve thought, “He’s left it too late this time”, only to be amazed as he produced a couple of powerful shots to bring India a nail-biting victory,” Chappell wrote in his column in ESPNcricinfo.
“His outward calm is no illusion since his tactical adeptness in these situations is proof his brain continues to work perfectly.” Drawing a comparison with Michael Bevan, who is considered to be one of the greatest finisher of the game, Chappell said Dhoni has surpassed the former Australian number six.
“Where Bevan finished matches with fours, Dhoni does so with sixes. The one area – running between wickets – where you’d expect the fleet-footed Bevan to have an advantage is debatable, because even at age 37, Dhoni is among the quickest in the game,” he wrote.
“Even allowing for improved bats and the advantage of playing T20 cricket, statistically Dhoni is superior to Bevan. There can be no argument – Dhoni is the best ODI finisher.” Of late, Dhoni has often been criticised for his slow innings but the former India skipper silenced the doubters when he unleashed a massive six at Adelaide to seal the third ODI and the series 2-1.
“His trademark lofted on-drive comfortably cleared one of the longer Adelaide Oval boundaries to settle the issue in that particular finishing effort,” Chappell wrote.
The wicket-keeper batsman will look to continue his form on the upcoming tour of New Zealand, where India will play five ODIs and three T20s. The first ODI will be played on 23 January in Napier.