Former New Zealand cricketer Scott Styris on Monday reckoned that Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni owns Mumbai Indians' Lasith Malinga when it comes to their encounters in the Indian Premier League. "It's about the best finisher in the game against the best finisher bowler. Dhoni vs Malinga and Dhoni owns Malinga," he claimed during an interaction with Star Sports.
Dhoni, the former Indian skipper, is regarded as the world's best finisher in limited-overs cricket given his calculative approach and ability to tonk sixes at will under pressure. On the other hand, the veteran Sri Lanka bowler is hailed as the world's best death bowler owing to the immense variations he brings to the table, besides his ability to nonchalantly bowl yorkers. The mere introduction of their match-up makes any avid cricket follower excited.
Since the second season of IPL, Malinga and Dhoni have come face-to-face at least twice in every season barring 2016. But the result of the battle between the best finisher and the best death bowler, has been far from exciting, according to statistics. In this piece, we will look at the IPL meetings between the two veterans of the game and analyse if Dhoni truly "owns" Malinga.
Here is Dhoni's performance against Malinga in IPLs...
If looked season-wise, Dhoni has hardly faced Malinga, although the overall results do show that the CSK skipper holds the upper edge over the veteran Sri Lankan bowler. In fact, in all T20 meetings, combining their encounters in the presently-defunct Champions League T20, Dhoni has managed 107 runs in 70 deliveries at a strike rate of 152.86 and a boundary percentage of 18.57 with Malinga getting rid of him just thrice.
So, while the overall numbers do imply a level of dominance shown by Dhoni in the T20 battle, the IPL numbers may not justify the word "owns" as reckoned by Styris. And its simply because Dhoni is not amongst the top run-getters against Malinga in IPL history. In fact, he is nowhere even in the top-5.
Royal Challengers Bangalore's AB de Villiers, a T20 legend, has the best statistic against the veteran bowler in IPL, scoring 144 runs at over 200 a strike rate, boundary percentage of around 30, and without a single dismissal. In fact, in the last season, De Villiers scored 45 runs in 15 deliveries against Malinga with 6 sixes and a boundary. His numbers are followed by Dhoni's IPL teammate, Shane Watson - 125 runs with around 180 strike rate and three dismissals. Hence, statistically speaking, it is De Villiers who "owns" Malinga.