Friday, January 15, 2010
After leading India to 5 ODI series victories in 2009 and ending the year as the number one batsman on the ICC rankings, one can ask if Mahendra Singh Dhoni will continue his good run of form into 2010 or will the pressure of excessive cricket and the law of averages finally catch up with him?
Beginning his ODI career inauspiciously with a first-ball duck, MS Dhoni’s career graph has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels since, currently having the highest batting average for any Indian batsman to have played more than 50 ODIs.
After becoming the skipper of the one-day side, Dhoni sobered down the flamboyant style of play that got him so much success, and became a bit more selective in his shot making. He became such a consistent match winner for the men in blue that his average in a winning cause was 55% greater than his overall batting average. 2009 saw the pinnacle of such sustained success as he averaged more than 70 while scoring his third successive ODI thousand in a calendar year.
Dhoni’s performances as against other Indian batsmen:
||Runs in winning cause
||Average in winning cause
||Difference in Average
Dhoni’s 2009 form vs Rest of the world
Compared to his contemporaries’ 2009 performances in the international arena, Dhoni’s graph towers above the rest of the field having scored at almost double the rate of the next best keeper, Brad Haddin.
Even amongst the list of captains (excluding stand-in captains), Dhoni is way ahead of the next best – Shakib-al-Hasan – as can be seen from the chart below.
What to expect in 2010
The questions to ask are: Can Dhoni continue his ascent in the new year. Or has he already peaked? And could 2010 be a blip on his career graph?
A comparison of Dhoni’s career with some former Indian captains leads to some interesting revelations. Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Mohd. Azharuddin all saw a significant drop in their performance in the years after they had hit their peak. Their averages for the years following their peak either nosedived, or took a big step down.
Graph of Batting Average for Azharuddin, Ganguly and Dravid in the years of and following their peak:
Another point to note would be that India will play an ODI series against the South Africans in February. The table below shows that Dhoni has scored runs against all teams except South Africa, against whom he averages only 24.5, a far cry from his career average of 51.12.
Dhoni’s performance against all teams in ODIs:
In 2010, the 3rd edition of the Indian Premier League will be followed up by the ICC World Twent20. The same tournaments were held back to back in 2009 as well, and the dip in Dhoni’s form is apparent.
Dhoni’s performance in the IPL 2009 and the ICC World T20, 2009.
|ICC World T20 2009
The above table shows that after the 2009 edition of the IPL, a ragged-looking Dhoni was neither able to defend his World T20 title nor score the bucketful of runs associated with him.
Taking into account the schedule for the Indian team and MS Dhoni in 2010, and considering the well acknowledged fact that the Indian bowling attack lacks sting, while the fielding department lacks quality, the year 2010 could be the year that the law of averages finally catches up to the Indian captain, and he sees his first dip in form since debut.
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