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The story behind MS Dhoni’s Helicopter shot

By Vipin - July 17, 2023 - Last updated on Jul 17, 2023 01:16 PM
The story behind MS Dhoni’s Helicopter shot

Do you follow Cricket closely and admire Mahendra Singh Dhoni? Then you must be aware of his famous and trademark ‘Helicopter Shot’. But did you ever thought why it is called a Helicopter Shot with no involvement of the chopper? Who named it that way? It has been a hot topic in Cricket circuits all over. Today we are going to tell the entire story of MS Dhoni’s Helicopter Shot.


But before it became the signature shot of the Captain Cool, it does have a Bollywood story behind it set in Ranchi, Mahi’s home city! Let’s know more how this famous MSD Helicopter Shot came into the limelight all the way from Ranchi in this post!

Ever since his incredible knock at Nairobi, MS Dhoni became the talk of the town. Even in normal talks of people and the Cricketing circuit, people talked of MSD’s heroics.

Before the rise of MS Dhoni from a Ticket Collector in Kharagpur to making it to the Indian Cricket Team, Indian Cricket was dominated by big cities. Yes, Cricketers from Delhi, Mumbai, and Karnataka breaking into the National side used to be the order.


Back in the days in school, political opinions or the receding economy never mattered to me. I have always been a cricket guy, finding joy in everything the 22-yard has to offer and it was only natural that the back page of the newspaper was the first thing I would ever turn to. Don’t remember the exact date - I don’t even bother googling it - but what I do remember is the “MS Dhoni turns hero for India in Nairobi” headline on the New Indian Express as I packed my stuff for school. Not sure if that headline played a part, but Dhoni became the very synonym of my cricket-watching days, with my Youtube filling with “MS Dhoni this... Ms Dhoni that.” search history and I can’t help it even now.

Being a small-towner in the cauldron of Indian cricket, which was dominated by the elites of Mumbai, Delhi, and Karnataka, something unique is needed to rise above the stereotypes. Dhoni was the perfect prototype defying conventional wisdom for greater success - a never-seen avatar. And the truth is anyone who has followed his career ever since his duck-debut against Bangladesh, has reasons to feel privileged for a long-locked unconventional man from the eastern Indian outpost of Ranchi changed the sport in a way very little has.


And at the heart of it, it has to be the way he played his cricket - as Siddharth Monga puts it for ESPN Cricinfo, “MS Dhoni demonstrated all that was right with the new middle-class India. He didn't respect reputations but never disrespected. He improvised, he learned but didn't make an apology about his batting style, which was not the most elegant. He still batted with low, hockey hands, he still didn't look elegant but became a multi-faceted ODI batsman, one who could accumulate, one who could rebuild, and one who could still unleash those big sixes.”

Just wander your mind back to the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, on April 2, 2011. With four runs needed off 11 balls, Dhoni hit perhaps the most celebrated shot in Indian cricketing history - Sorry, Sachin Tendulkar, your uppercut was good, but seriously? - and he did that with what has been labelled as Helicopter Shot, a flick off the bat toward the leg side when facing a Nuwan Kulasekara full-length delivery. It has now been a lodestone in Indian lore and surely, the cornerstone in MS Dhoni’s rise as an inspirational cricketer.

The origin of the helicopter shot

Although Sachin Tendulkar played a variant of the Helicopter shot just after scoring his 32nd ODI century in Chester-le-Street against England in 2002, the world knows Dhoni as the man who made it popular. But it was actually Dhoni’s childhood friend and former Jharkhand cricketer Santosh Lal who the former had first seen playing in a local night match that ignited his ambition to learn the trick.


As shown in Dhoni’s biopic “MS Dhoni: The Untold Story”, Lal played the shot to impress his girl-friend and labelled it as “Thappad Shot”. Thappad, in Hindi, means slap and it was exactly like that. It was a tight slap on the leather when the bowler unleashes a yorker delivery that was virtually unplayable those days if you miss the flick. By Thappad Shot, one could actually hit a six off a yorker, and that Dhoni learnt from his friend, who went on to play eight first-class matches alongside 16 List-A and 6 T20 games for Jharkhand. Lal taught him in exchange of Singhadas (A vernacular term for Samosas in Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha).

Have you seen the Bollywood movie, MS Dhoni, The Untold Story? Then you may have seen Santosh playing the famous MS Dhoni Helicopter Shot to impress his girlfriend.

He called it the Thappad Shot (Slap). You slap the ball if it is a Yorker coming your way. In fact, by using this Thappad Shot, you can hit the Yorker for a six and leave the bowler confused. Dhoni learned the trick from Lal in exchange for Singhadas (A local term used in Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal for Samosas).

How to play this short

dhoni In cricket, the helicopter shot is the act of hitting the ball by means of a wristy flick, using the bottom-hand as the dominant force. The shot gets its name from the flourish completing the stroke, with the bat being circled overhead. It has been considered an unconventional and innovative stroke which, when executed effectively, can be used to score boundaries, even against good yorkers or fuller-length deliveries,[1] which have traditionally been used by faster bowlers towards the end of limited-overs matches because it is difficult to hit such balls to the boundary.

Who taught this short to MS Dhoni

Nishant Dayal, a close friend of Santosh Lal, shed more insights and told Indian Express. “Lal and Dhoni would continue playing Tennis ball for long. And they both used to work for Railways. As a batsman, Santosh was fearless. MSD may have made the Helicopter Shot his. But Santosh was even better at playing it effortlessly. Dhoni was always in awe of Lal’s batting style. And it was Lal who taught him how to play that famed shot.


But Santosh could not grow much as a Cricketer. It is because he was a habitual drinker. It was a nightmare in his friend circle. He went on to play his last T20 Vs Himachal Pradesh in Indore in 2010. And it was a representational BCCI match. But Lal passed away at the age of 29 in 2013 due to Pancreatitis.

MS Dhoni had arranged for an air ambulance for his childhood pal to get him to Delhi from Ranchi for improved treatments. But destiny had some other plans for Lal. He who made a big difference in Dhoni’s career even though unknowingly died.

Dhoni has not played for India ever since that heartbreaking run out in the Semi-Final of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. And you may not see him playing in the India colours again! But the legacy of the blockbuster MSD Helicopter Shot will continue to live for ages!

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