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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The best from Mahendra Singh Dhoni

As India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni turns 30 on July 7, rediff.com takes a look at some of his best innings.

Like Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni was also out for a duck in his first one-day international, against Bangladesh in December 2004.

- Dhoni turns 30, wish him

Since then, he has piled on the runs.

148 vs Pakistan in Vizag

It was just his fifth One Day International.

Playing against Pakistan in Visakhapatnam in April 2005, Dhoni came to the crease at the fall of the first wicket (Tendulkar's) and scored 148 -- the highest score ever by an Indian wicketkeeper (which he improved upon subsequently).

He was involved in two crucial partnerships en route -- a stand of 96 for the second wicket with Virender Sehwag (74) and a mammoth 149-run stand for the fourth wicket with Rahul Dravid (52).

Dhoni's 123-ball knock was inclusive of 15 hits to the fence and four over it. His his effort helped India post a huge total (356-9). Indian won the match comfortably by 58 runs.

Six months later, Dhoni was in action again -- against Sri Lanka at the Sawai Mansingh stadium.

A spectacular, unbeaten 138 by Kumar Sangakkara helped the visitors score 298-4. Tendulkar was dismissed cheaply.

- At 30, Dhoni has delivered! Wish him

And in came Dhoni to join Virender Sehwag (39). The duo put on 97 runs for the second wicket. Dhoni put on another 86 runs for the third wicket with Rahul Dravid (28) and a further 65 for the fourth with Yuvraj Singh (18).

His 145-ball spectacle consisted of 15 boundaries and a whopping 10 maximums. And it ensured India romped home by six wickets, with about four overs to spare.

The knock remains the highest score ever by an Indian wicketkeeper and Dhoni's highest in ODIs.

Arguably his best Test innings ever, Dhoni's unbeaten 76 was crucial in the context of the series.

India, chasing 380 to win in the fourth innings in the first Test at Lord's, were in trouble at 145-5. It was at this stage that Dhoni arrived at the crease and helped VVS Laxman (39) put on 86 runs for the sixth wicket.

Laxman was dismissed and so were three other batsmen. But Dhoni hung on.

- At 30, Dhoni has delivered! Wish him

With a little help from the inclement weather and a surprisingly resolute Sreesanth, Dhoni ensured England was denied the last wicket and India eked out a draw.

The visitors managed to win the second Test in Trent Bridge (Nottingham) and went on to pocket their first series win in England in 21 years.

Another memorable Test innings by Dhoni. It came against Sri Lanka at the Brabourne Stadium in December 2009.

Dhoni had, by then, consolidated his position as Test captain.

After the visitors were dismissed for 393, a whirlwind 293 by Virender Sehwag ensured the home team a solid platform.

- At 30, Dhoni has delivered! Wish him

Dhoni came in to bat at No.7 and his quickfire hundred, inclusive of three boundaries and six mammoth sixes, helped India declare at 726-9, their highest Test score ever.

Sri Lanka was dismissed for 309 in their second essay, thereby ensuring India a comfortable innings and 24 runs win in the match and a 2-0 result in the series.

By winning the same, India achieved the No. 1 rank in Test cricket for the first time in history.

It might not be huge in terms of numbers.

But it was a spectacular knock, nonetheless! And what makes it memorable is the fact that it came in the final of the World Cup -- helping India end a 28-year drought and win its second world title.

Before the final, Dhoni had had an ordinary tournament -- managing to score just 150 runs in seven innings, without a single half century.

- At 30, Dhoni has delivered! Wish him

With India in trouble at 114-3, chasing a formidable 275, Dhoni decided to promote himself up the order.  

It proved a masterstroke from the captaincy point of view. And for the batsman it worked wonders as well.

Dhoni put on 109 runs for the fourth wicket with Gautam Gambhir (97) before taking India to victory with an unbroken 54-run stand for the fifth wicket with Yuvraj Singh (21 not out), finishing the match with a six.

His effort, when it mattered the most, helped Dhoni win the man of the match honours. Besides, he had already created history.

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