South Africa’s performance analyst decodes MS Dhoni’s run-making style

Sixes upon sixes, matches after matches for weeks can make IPL resemble an incoherent blur, patterns and performances that even a discerning eye can miss. Questions are left hanging in the air: like, was MS Dhoni’s whirlwhind knock against KXIP a norm or exception? Prasanna Agoram, Proteas’ performance analyst, comes on board The Indian Express and unveils the method behind the IPL madness. Here’s the first of his weekly dispatches.

Does his whirlwind 44-ball 79* in the IPL game against Kings XI Punjab last Sunday suggest Mahendra Singh Dhoni has regained his attacking avatar? Or was it just a flash in the pan? Is there a pattern that we can glean from Dhoni in the last several months to say anything definite? Indian cricket has sweated a lot on Dhoni’s batting. Even his hardcore fans had begun to feel that age has caught up with him, and that his attacking days are a thing of the past. But it’s not true: There have indeed been several batsmen before him who have lost their hand-eye coordination when they got older but Dhoni is still supremely fit, his reflexes sharper than ever behind the stumps. What has ailed him, then?

MS Dhoni: Finisher’s unfinished business

In one word: the balance at the crease. He is someone who has not fussed about his technique much that people have confused it with a lack of technique. Technique doesn’t always be seen in purist’s term; rather it’s what makes a batsman tick. For example, Virender Sehwag’s technique was not to get his footwork impede him; he liked to stay beside the line. Combined with extraordinary hand-eye coordination, it allowed him to destruct bowling attacks. Similarly, Dhoni had his own home-grown technique. The definition of technique is just getting the blue print success of a player at his best no matter. Everyone has their own method of batting that suits them.

In IPL 2017, he worked real hard on his stability and down swing in every net session, after carefully watching the video footage. Now, all of a sudden, he is back to the old problem that had subconsciously crept in. An exaggerated back-foot trigger movement which impeded his balance, bat-swing.

Balance is key
The most important factor in Dhoni’s technique is the equilibrium he has at the crease. Now, balance is easy term to understand but it’s difficult to achieve. It’s like that cliché: staying still. Nearly every good batsman talks about it, but only a few achieve it.

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