MS Dhoni is the most critiqued Indian player ever in the history of the game. He has many million admirers globally and equal, if not more, number of adversaries too. He instills terror into the opposing teams and they end up planning timelessly on, how not to let Dhoni free his arms at the closing stages of the match rather focus on getting him or his teammates out.
Meticulous student of the game, Captain Cool, who just does not show any kind of emotion even in the most critical and tense moments, where, most others hit the panic button. Public censure his every move; experts always are interested in his batting technique or lack of it; media loves to scrutinize his every move and pounce on every failure of meeting their expectations and standards; Yet, Dhoni is India’s Most Successful Cricket Captain, with couple of World Cups, an ICC Champions Trophy, Leader of a Numero Uno Test Team for a substantial period, couple of IPL Crowns and Champions League. He must have done something right all these years.
On the wake of another painstakingly close 1 run loss to WI in a T20 match, knives and daggers are out again and every Dhoni critic is talking about his time being done, he needs to hang up his gloves, no more Midas touch and much more.
Carrying a Tag of “World’s Best finisher in Limited Overs Internationals” is MS Dhoni, the batsman losing his finishing touch?
A Leading Website highlights the below statistic, but, does this tell us the entire story?
Virat Kohli must take over the captaincy in all formats. Why do our fellow countrymen always like a change? Or are they bored or MSD?
Why crucify Dhoni all the time? First, is he the right guy to lead in Tests? His batting Technique? Record outside Sub Continent? Why retire from Tests in the middle of a Test series?
Why cannot we supporters let our cricketing legends take decisions on their careers whenever they feel right?
Why is there a stereotype image of a fixed shelf life for every captain?
Can we not digest the fact that there is someone who just reads the game slightly differently or rather unconventionally than most of the others?
Is it fair to say MSD’s failure to finish games is unthinkable as the expectations are set too high all these years?
Not long ago, there were similar criticisms during the captaincy tenures of Dravid, Ganguly, Sachin, Azhar and even in the earlier generations Srikanth, Kapil, and Gavaskar were never that lucky.
Dhoni is no different, but because of his sheer longevity and success, he has ensured, the Indian team, who were known for being very nervy and jittery while batting second in LOI’s, have a paradigm shift in mentality and established consistency while successfully chasing Totals to win matches.
Let us analyze a little further to know if there is any truth in these accusations and is Dhoni really finished, as many would like to call. Starting with a snapshot of his Captaincy records
Second Highest Number of ODI’s Captained (194) and Won (107)
Captained Most number of T20’s(72) and Won (41)
Captained Most number of IPL matches(143) and Won (83)
We shall focus only on MSD’s limited over’s performances especially the ones since his retirement from the longest form of the game
6 Losses (42.9%) while India Batted Second- 1 last over finish
Oct’2015 against South Africa,
Chasing a daunting 304, at the stroke of 40th over, Virat got out and in walks Dhoni ahead of Raina. 90 required of last 10 overs, Rohit Sharma was cruising with MS giving him company and giving as much strike to a set Rohit Sharma as possible. With 35 runs required off 24 balls, Rohit Sharma got out and a couple of balls later, Raina goes for a slog and holes out to Duminy. 2 wickets in an over to Tahir, turning the tide in favor of the South Africans.
31 required off 18 balls, still India’s game, but South Africa have Rabada and Styen to bowl the remaining 3 overs. MS picks up 9 and 11 runs from the 48th and 49th overs respectively. Crucial boundary saved by Phangiso at a point on the last ball of the 49th India needing 11 to win off the last over. Gathered 4 runs of the first 3 balls, MSD goes for a gamble to get himself a boundary only to top edge a slog with 7 required off 3 balls.
Nailbiter, MSD would have finished it 9 out of 10 times but unfortunately, this falls on the wrong side of his record. Trusting your partner is everything in such finishes. MSD had little confidence on Binny and the others to follow. In hindsight, only if Raina would not have gone for the slog, stayed with his skipper, both of them would have taken the side across the line.
3 Losses (25%) while India Batted Second – 2 last over finishes
1st against Zimbabwe, 7 required off 4 balls when debutant Rishi Dhawan walked in, wasted a crucial ball and then ran a jittery single on the penultimate ball leaving MSD with 4 required of 1 ball. When such is the equation, the probability is reduced to 50% and this was another such instance where Dhoni could not take his side home. Good bowling in the death by Madziva
Against West Indies, India had to chase a mammoth246 of their allocated 20 overs. MSD walks in No. 5, with 109 required from 8.1 overs. India was tremendously lucky in the first place, to get back into the game, predominantly because of the partnership between KL Rahul and MS Dhoni. Rahul was in the form of his life scoring his maiden T20 century of course. MSD did not look out of sorts at all.
With 8 required of last over, Dwayne Bravo has entrusted the duty to restrict the Indians. Anybody who could win it for India, it is this pair of MSD and Rahul, at the same time, anybody who could do the job for the Windies, it is Bravo. The Best of the Best, Champion Bravo had the last laugh, beating the Dhoni with his trademark slower ball, India losing agonizingly by 1 run.
To Dhoni’s credit, he scored a quickfire 43 off 25 balls, someone who is playing after a gap of 2 months, flying to the USA for this sudden makeshift 2 Twenty20 series,
One can argue, 20 other guys playing in this match had better match practice than Dhoni. The Indian boys coming on the back of the Test series and the West Indians, finishing their Caribbean Premier League commitments. But again, all these are only excuses and professional cricketers, that these players are, one expects TOP results. Is the blame put on Dhoni, purely on the basis of the expectations set from the past? Or, since these close losses happened to come nearer to each other and that too while MSD is on the wrong side of 35.
Let us celebrate the career of MS Dhoni – The Marvel. There will be victories and there will be losses until someone else in the team raises their hand and take up the challenge of finishing the games for India on a consistent basis, we only have MSD as our finisher.