It’s a long-stated fact that ‘most’ cricketers after turning 30 struggle to repeat what can be called as their prime performances but those who do, turn out to be one of the most celebrated players in the sport. However, for MS Dhoni, the final holler of his greatness is still to be sounded and while we couldn’t take away the credit from him for taking team India to its biggest of glories, we can also deny the fact that his struggles with the bat have made him receive some flak from fans and critics alike.
In India’s humiliating defeat against New Zealand in the second T20I at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot, MS Dhoni scratched around on the pitch at the start of his innings, which according to some experts, was one of the prime reasons for the home team’s loss.
For the unknown, backed by a century partnership between Martin Guptill (45) and Colin Munro (109*) New Zealand recorded a first innings total of 196 runs which, while seemed achievable to many, was not an easy target to chase. But to everyone’s surprise, the Indian batting order witnessed another collapse as other than the 65-run stand by skipper Virat Kohli and the 49-run knock by MS Dhoni, there wasn’t a single innings that could have endowed some confidence for the hosts.
With this 40-run defeat, criticism was all but expected and MS Dhoni has turned out to be the sole point-of-attraction from the likes of VVS Laxman and Ajit Agarkar.
During the post-match show, VVS Laxman said, “I feel it’s time for MS Dhoni to give the young guns a chance in the T20 format which will be an opportunity for a young player to blossom as well as get some confidence in playing international cricket. MSD is definitely an integral part of ODI cricket.”
On the other hand, Ajit Agarkar, during an interview with ESPNcricinfo said, “I think the Indian team must now look for other options, at least in T20 Internationals. In ODIs, they seem to be happy with MS Dhoni’s role. When you were the captain, it was different. But as a batsman, will India miss him? I don’t think so. In T-Twenty cricket, it is a lot easier to make this transition as there is a lot of experience apart from MS Dhoni in the team now.”
For MS Dhoni fans, they know that the two-time World Cup-winning captain more than just a couple of things about when to put an end to his career and they have his Test retirement as a proof. When everybody was toddling with the idea of MS Dhoni leaving the limited overs format, he had got one better with his Test retirement.
As far as his ODI and T20I outings are concerned, MS Dhoni was never the sole flagbearer of his team and believed in a complete team play.
Which is what a celebrated Indian veteran of 125 Tests and 108 ODIs, Sunil Gavaskar believes.
In an interview with NDTV, Sunil Gavaskar took a stand for MS Dhoni and highlighted the fact that the likes of Hardik Pandya and the top three also failed to deliver in the second T20I but their failures were pushed under the carpet as MS Dhoni is now an easy target due to his advancing age.
Here is what Sunil Gavaskar said,
“When somebody reaches the age beyond 30, then I think all of us start to find faults with that over-30 person. We actually start hastening somebody’s retirement by demanding too much of the person. We ignore the guys under 30 who in reality haven’t done anything but we tend to overlook that.”
So, we will not look at failures of others in the same innings. Pandya getting out for one, we will not look at that. We will also not look at the fact that Indian openers did not give the usual start. Instead, We will only point a finger at MS Dhoni, which is unfortunate and that is India for you.”
“For a cricketer, it does help if he plays continuously as you are in rhythm as well as in the groove almost every time, even if you are not taking wickets as a bowler or scoring as a batsman. Having actual games as well as match practice is very important. So clearly the more cricket one plays, it is better for him.”
Everything said and done, while MS Dhoni’s importance in the ODI squad can’t be questioned as he continues to play a vital role on the field, be it in any department, the world of T20 has changed drastically. It is true that MS Dhoni was once one of the biggest assets in the format but considering his current form and approach as a batsman, team India should start working on his replacement in T20s.
That said, nobody would want MS Dhoni to leave the format with his head hanging and we would love to see the former skipper getting back into his form and start getting at the ball from the word ‘go’, for this is what team India needs in the middle-order.