MS Dhoni is one of the greatest batsmen and captains in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Ask any fan to name their all-time IPL XI and you'll find his name on their list.
Over the course of a decade, Captain Cool has enthralled and captivated fans with some outstanding knocks off his willow, helping his side cross the finish line on numerous occasions.
In this article, let us look at three of the greatest knocks played by MS Dhoni in the history of the annual T20 extravaganza.
#3 54* (29 balls) vs Kings XI Punjab
We travel ten years back in time (IPL 2010) when the Men in Yellow took on Kings XI Punjab at the picturesque HPCA Stadium in Dharamshala. Team Punjab batted first and posted a challenging total of 192 runs on the board.
When the CSK skipper walked out to the middle, the scorecard read 89/3 after 9.4 overs.
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The asking rate was over ten runs an over and the pressure was increasing with each passing delivery. But Captain Cool wasn't going to concede defeat that easily.
He took the attack to the opposition and kept CSK in the hunt, with Subramaniam Badrinath giving him good support at the other end. The equation boiled down to 16 runs required off the final over. Irfan Pathan had the ball in his hand and Dhoni was on strike.
The first ball was clobbered for a boundary past long-off. Dhoni scampered for a two off the second ball and kept the strike. The CSK skipper then hoisted Pathan for two consecutive sixes off the next two balls to script a sensational victory for his side.
#2 84 (48 balls) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
The two South Indian powerhouses locked horns against each other at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. The home side batted first and posted 161 runs on the board. In reply, CSK were tottering at 28/4 when their leader walked in.
Dhoni opened his account off the first ball he faced with a cut that raced to the boundary. He then steadied the CSK innings, hitting boundaries at regular intervals and keeping his team in the contest.
In the end, the equation boiled down to 26 runs off the last over. Umesh Yadav had the ball in his hand. Dhoni pulled the first ball past square leg for a boundary. The second one was again pitched short but found itself on the roof, having been at the receiving end of a ferocious shot from Captain Cool's willow.
Another six off the next ball meant that CSK needed ten runs off the final three balls. The fourth ball of the over saw Dhoni take two runs to keep the strike. With eight required off two balls, he pummelled Yadav for another six.
However, there wasn't a happy ending in store for this one. Requiring two off the final delivery, the CSK skipper missed the ball completely, meaning that his side lost the game by one run.
#1 51* (20 Balls) vs Mumbai Indians
In the 2012 eliminator, two of IPL’s most successful sides locked horns against each other. Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings battled it out at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium to move one step further in their quest for the coveted trophy. CSK batted first and Dhoni walked in with the scorecard reading 95/3 after 13.2 overs. He made his intentions clear right from the first ball he faced in the match, flicking it past mid-wicket for a four.
The CSK skipper scored his first six off the fifth ball he faced. James Franklin bowled a length delivery and Dhoni clobbered the ball over long-on and it landed on the roof. In the 16th over of the innings, he sent Dhawal Kulkarni to the cleaners, blasting three consecutive boundaries off his bowling.
The first was a straight drive that split the gap between long-off and long-on. A powerful drive past cover followed, making it two in two.
Kulkarni then tried pitching it short, but Dhoni was ready and pulled him for a third consecutive boundary.
It wasn't until the fourth ball of the 19th over that Captain Cool pulled out the 'Helicopter Shot'. Lasith Malinga bowled a brilliant yorker but Dhoni put his powerful wrists into play and the next thing we saw was the ball sailing over mid-wicket and landing into the stands.
The CSK skipper brought up his fifty off the last ball of the innings, finishing the match unbeaten on 51 off just 20 balls. Dhoni's blitzkrieg enabled his side to beat the Mumbai-based outfit by 38 runs and book a spot in the second Qualifier.