King of Helicopter Shots in Cricket: Player Who Invented it

Know which batsmen have played the best helicopter shots in cricket history and how MS Dhoni popularized the shot by using it effectively against yorkers.

Subhayan Dutta
Subhayan Dutta

Last Updated: 2024-02-06

Dillip Mohanty

5 minutes read

Former Indian cricket team captain and Chennai Super Kings’ star skipper MS Dhoni has undoubtedly some of the best helicopter shots in cricket history. The middle-order batsman is credited to have invented the helicopter shot, although the game has seen numerous other batters using the helicopter shot from time to time.

What is a Helicopter Shot? 

With its sheer audacity and power, the helicopter shot revolutionized the current era of limited-overs cricket when it first appeared. None other than the renowned cricket player Mahendra Singh Dhoni helped to popularize it.

With limited overs cricket at its peak, the best of bowlers like Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah have resorted to mastering the yorker ball as it leaves a batter with very little scope of hitting a boundary. To counter bowlers like them, Dhoni came up with the helicopter shot, which requires a combination of wristwork, timing, and strength.

A helicopter shot takes extraordinary hand-eye coordination, deft footwork, and a thorough comprehension of the bowler's intent to execute this stroke. In order to propel the ball into the stands, the hitter must swing the bat with tremendous energy.

 MS Dhoni Helicopter Shot.jpeg

MS Dhoni’s best helicopter shot, and perhaps the most memorable one, was the one that won the Indian cricket team the ODI World Cup in 2011 after 28 years. India was on the verge of winning the trophy with Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh at the crease when Dhoni unleashed the helicopter shot to cement it in the cricketing folklore forever.

Of course, the helicopter shot can be countered by bowlers by varying their lengths and pace. As mentioned above, anticipation is a fundamental prerequisite for executing the helicopter shot to perfection and an unpredictable bowler will be a perfect foil to it.

Best Helicopter Shots In Cricket History: Top 3

It is important to note that a helicopter shot can be played at different parts of the ground the only identical element being the scooping of a fuller-length delivery aimed mostly at the stumps. Hence, we have curated three instances when the batsman used power, technique and anticipation to send a fuller delivery to the stands.

1. MS Dhoni - India vs Sri Lanka | 2011 ODI World Cup final

MS Dhoni Hitting Six in 2011 World Cup Final.jpeg

With no pressure of winning the most important match of his career as a captain, MS Dhoni had taken down Nuwan Kulasekara’s fuller-length ball with a thunderous helicopter shot. With just four runs needed, Sri Lanka had mentally given up on the World Cup title with Kulasekara’s attempt at bowling the yorker seemingly half-hearted. Dhoni didn’t waste this chance to write his name on the history books as he swung the bat with all his might to send the ball towards long-on for a six as the entire Wankhede Stadium erupted into a roar.

2. Hardik Pandya - MI vs CSK | IPL - 2019

Hardik Pandya Helicoptor Shot.jpeg

A Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings clash is always a mouthwatering fixture, mostly because of the number of stars competing in it. This incident took place during a league stage match of IPL 2019 with the hosts batting first at the Wankhede Stadium. After CSK had done a decent job of limiting MI to just 141 runs in 19 overs, Dhoni had handed the last over to his death-over specialist Dwayne Bravo. However, an in-from Hardik Pandya was waiting for the Caribbean star at the other end and eventually hit 29 runs off the last over.

One of the three big sixes Pandya hit Bravo was a helicopter shot. It was the fourth ball of the over when Pandya went deep in his crease to dig up Bravo’s yorker for a six, over cow corner. It was a majestic view, even for the CSK fans.

3. Rashid Khan - Maratha Arabians vs Pakhtoons | Abu Dhabi T10 League 2018

Rashid Khan Helicopter Shot.jpeg

One player who can play the helicopter almost at all is Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan. The spin bowling-allrounder has repeatedly proven it at Big Bash League, Indian Premier League and many places else what a pinch hitter he is. However, one of his shots that even got Virender Sehwag standing up and applauding from the dugout came during the Abu Dhabi T10 League in 2018.

Batting for the Arabians, Rashid Khan was facing Pakistan’s Mohammad Irfan on the last ball of the 19th over when he effortlessly picked up Irfan’s attempted yorker with the familiar swing and sent it to the stands for a magnificent six.

Who taught MS Dhoni the Helicopter Shot?

MS Dhoni claims that his friend Santosh Lal created the helicopter shot, which he referred to as the "Thappad shot". One can recall Santosh Lal's role in Dhoni's film MS Dhoni: The Untold Story was portrayed by Kranti Prakash Jha.

According to the movie, Santosh used to give Dhoni lessons on how to perform the "thappad shot" and ask him for some samosas. In addition to being a cricket player, Santosh Lal is said to played several games with Dhoni throughout their formative years.  

However, due to his family obligations, Santosh Lal could not play cricket for a considerable amount of time, but Dhoni persisted with his goal of playing for Team India and eventually captained his country.

MS Dhoni’s Helicopter Shot for CSK

While MS Dhoni’s CSK career is littered with sixes that won the franchises numerous matches and as many as five IPL titles, one of the most memorable hits came during a CSK vs MI clash in IPL 2015 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Rohit Sharma had a lethal option in Lasith Malinga and the captain deployed him against a dangerous-looking MS Dhoni.

Dhoni launching the helicopter shot for CSK in IPL.jpeg

Malinga didn’t do much wrong in his entire over, barring the second ball when he missed his yorker by just inches. This was enough for Dhoni to get back at his crease and take the delivery on half-volley for a helicopter shot as the ball went for a six over long-on.


Who is Helicopter Shot King?

M. S. Dhoni gave the stroke its name and popularity by frequently using it to hit boundaries against yorker and full-length deliveries. Dhoni's boyhood friend Santosh Lal, a fellow player, was the one who showed him how to execute the shot.

Who played the first helicopter shot in cricket?

Multiple cricketers like Aravinda Silva, Kevin Pietersen, Sachin Tendulkar, Chamara Silva, Abdul Razzaq and others had previously displayed the technique of helicopter shot before MS Dhoni made it popular. Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin had a memorable helicopter shot similar against South Africa in 1990 at the Eden Gardens. However, none of the above batsmen used it as intentionally, productively or regularly as MS Dhoni, who gave this shot a label.

Who invented the helicopter shot?

The shot got its name and fame through M. S. Dhoni, who played it on a regular basis as a way to score boundaries against full and yorker-length deliveries.

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Subhayan Dutta
Subhayan DuttaSports Writer

An M.A. in English Literature, Subhayan is an experienced journalist and sports writer. Having worked as a journalist at Hindustan Times, Subhayan covered diverse beats including sports, education, and health, showcasing his versatility and in-depth understanding of various subjects.