It is very difficult to find a better gambler than Indian skipper MS Dhoni in recent times. He has gambled a lot with his on-field decisions which other captains won’t even think of doing it in crucial situations. It all began during the 2007 World T20 when Dhoni threw the ball to Joginder Sharma in the last over with 13 to defend and India had the services of experienced Harbhajan Singh to bowl.
Instead of throwing the ball to the offie who was struggling to find his length, Dhoni went by his instincts and gave Joginder the chance of sealing the match in favour of India. Eventually, India won the match by 5 runs when Joginder varied the pace of his delivery and Misbah ul Haq scooped a slower delivery straight into the hands of Sreesanth at short Fine Leg. If India had failed to win the trophy, MS Dhoni would have been under a lot of criticisms from the fans for losing a World Cup finals to their arch rivals.
Once again, Dhoni chose the grand stage to throw a gamble. In the finals of 2010 IPL, Mumbai Indians’ Kieron Pollard went berserk against the CSK bowlers which prompted Dhoni to have a fielder at the edge of the 30 yard circle just behind the bowler’s run-up marker along with a long on and long off in place. The reason for such a new position is Pollard is a strong hitter down the ground and he scores majority of the runs through that area. The gamble eventually paid off as Matthew Hayden caught Pollard and sealed the match in favour of CSK.
He repeated it again in the grandest of stages, i.e. the 2011 World Cup Finals when he promoted himself up the order ahead of in-form Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina inspite of having a poor form with the bat. He batted with responsibility and carried India home. These are the successful gambles taken by MS Dhoni in his captaincy career. He is also a classy finisher in the limited overs.
He used to take matches to the last over and win matches for his team. During the 2011-12 Commonwealth series in Australia, Chasing 237, India managed just to level the scores inspite of a brilliant 91 from Gautam Gambhir. After Gambhir’s dismissal, Dhoni decided to take the match till the end and seal the win but faltered in doing so. It also made Gambhir come out and say that if he had stayed till the end, he would have finished the game in the 45th over. Dhoni was blamed for the run out of Gambhir as a never was never there.
With five needed off the last two balls in the T20 against England, Dhoni hit the ball to the deep square leg and refused to take a single and give the strike to Rayudu. Facing the last ball, his calculated gamble failed to pay off as he managed a single off the last ball and lost the game for India from a winning position. Even in the last ball of the penultimate over, Dhoni wanted the strike for the final over and refused to take a single.
Having said all these, Dhoni too is after all a human who tends to commit mistakes. He is not a device or an invincible man who can never commit a mistake. Gambles always provide a 50-50 chance. If it pays off, he is treated as a hero and if it does not, he is treated as a traitor (not even a villain). It is always safe to go by the instincts rather than the stats during the pressure situations.