By: Chinmay Vaidya
MS Dhoni became the 12th player in cricket history to score 10,000 ODI runs during India's second ODI against England. He's the fourth Indian batsman to accomplish the feat, joining Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. As Dhoni's career begins to wind down, it's time to look back at his accomplishments and determine where he fits among India's greatest batsmen ever.
For the sake of easy comparisons, I'm only going to focus on India's 10K club for now. Virat Kohli will get there one day and is eventually going to end up as either the best or second-best batsmen in Indian history. But that's for another time. For the four guys listed above, I've compiled their stats in wins, losses and the difference. True average is calculated by eliminating "not out" innings from a batsman's record.
273 matches to reach 10,000 runs
In wins – True avg 40.84, S/R 97.19
In losses – True avg 30.79, S/R 76.45
W-L Difference – Avg 10.05, S/R 20.74
259 matches to reach 10,000 runs
In wins – True avg 48.29, S/R 90.31
In losses – True avg 32.92, S/R 79.86
W-L Difference – Avg 15.37, S/R 10.45
263 matches to reach 10,000 runs
In wins – True avg 47.19, S/R 77.87
In losses – True avg 29.77, S/R 68.92
W-L Diff – Avg 17.42, S/R 8.95
287 matches to reach 10,000 runs
In wins – True avg 40.35, S/R 75.27
In losses – True avg 29.13, S/R 67.24
W-L Diff - Avg 11.22, S/R 8.03
As you would expect, everyone performs better in wins than in losses. Dhoni and Dravid are the most consistent across wins and losses of the group, although Tendulkar still has the best average in losses. Dhoni and Dravid are easy to compare because they were both middle-order players who didn't get nearly the same amount of time as top-order guys Tendulkar and Ganguly did. Dhoni and Dravid often had to finish an innings and Dhoni did that better across the board.
As a captain, Ganguly was highly successful but he didn't win anything. Dhoni became the first captain to capture a T20 World Cup, a one-day World Cup and a Champions Trophy in cricket history. That doesn't happen on accident. His unbeaten 91 in the 2011 final is probably the most important innings in Indian cricket history given the context of the game and the legacies that were at stake. There's no argument between Dhoni and Ganguly; the guy who won the trophies gets the nod. It's now down to Dhoni and Tendulkar and that comparison might be closer than you think.
Reputation matters and Dhoni has earned a reputation as a master finisher. His successes while chasing down a target are well-known and the numbers show that. Here's the data for all four batsmen in winning chases.
Dhoni - True avg 37.27, S/R 89.36, 2 100s, 17 50s
Tendulkar - True avg 44.27, S/R 90.08, 14 100s, 31 50s
Ganguly - True avg 45.05, S/R 76.08, 6 100s, 25 50s
Dravid - True avg 33.61, S/R 68.75, 2 100s, 20 50s
The data would seem to suggest Tendulkar and Ganguly are far superior in chases, but it's important to understand the context of these innings. Tendulkar and Ganguly, as top-order players, have a greater opportunity to score runs and convert big scores than Dhoni and Dravid. Take a look at the number of "not out" innings each player has in winning chases and the percentage of chases won.
Dhoni - 44/69 Not Out, 63% not out, 104/176 successes, 59% success rate
Tendulkar - 25/124 Not Out, 20 % not out, 127/242 successes, 52% success rate
Ganguly - 15/73 Not Out, 20% not out, 75/159 successes, 47% success rate
Dravid - 17/68 Not Out, 25% not out, 83/176 successes, 47% success rate
Dhoni is the best chasing batsman and it's not really even worth a discussion. He stays on there and gets the job done at a much higher rate than any of the other 10K club members. Tendulkar and Ganguly are more likely to get out given their position in the order, but Dravid should've held his ground more often than he did.
All context considered, Dhoni likely finishes second given the sheer number of runs Tendulkar scored. But when you look at chases, pressure situations and accolades, it's hard to not side with the man from Ranchi.
Note: All statistics are up to date as of 7/16/2018.