It was the 49th over of the Indian batting, the period of play referred to as slog overs in cricketing lingo. After what was a quiet previous over, Dhoni dispatched England pacer #JamesAnderson’s indipping yorker ball over his head on the leg side for a huge six. The year was 2006 and the shot was the soon-to-become-legendary #HelicopterShot. Many batsmen had attempted it before (including a certain Sachin Tendulkar)but none with such devastating effect. The sight of Dhoni bringing his (high back lift) bat down with great speed to hit the ball while his body swivelled in a direction opposite to that of the shot was something else. The icing was the #365Degree rotation of the bat. Over the last decade MSD has made this shot all his own, a trademark of sorts. And in the process he has built a reputation as one of the best #Finishers that the limited overs game has ever seen.
Of all batsmen who have figured in at least 20 successful run chases in ODI cricket history Dhoni sits right at the top with a #Bradmanesque average of 105. He reads the game better than anyone, is always busy at the crease with his running between wickets and he has all the big shots. Who can forget his masterful 91 in a World Cup winning cause in 2011 while chasing what was a stiff target? Sadly none of this was in evidence at the beginning of the week in #Antigua. Where India’s famed batting lineup messed up what should have been a routine chase of a paltry West Indian score of 190 runs. As Dhoni laboured his way to a half century off more than a 100 balls it seemed evident that he was not half the batsman that he once was. After all he has amassed close to 10,000 runs in his career at a strike rate of 89. Is it time for Dhoni to gracefully step aside and let young talent take his place?
One of the trickiest decisions for any cricketer to make is regarding #Retirement. Hang around too long and tongues start wagging. And fans can be quite unforgiving in this matter even disregarding past achievements. Like how they did with India’s finest all rounder, #KapilDev who was accused of prolonging his career just for the sake of records. Let us discount the fact that Dhoni still runs the fastest between wickets, is the best bet behind them and surely has the sharpest brain in the game. The trouble is the ability to hit big shots at will. Something which Dhoni seems unable to do as regularly as the team would like him to. Remember the previous World Cup where in the semis against the #Aussies Dhoni simply failed to get going? And chasing a huge score of 300 plus, he came a cropper with a run-a-ball 65 before running out. Or the recent #ChampionsTrophy final(in which India got thrashed by arch rivals #Pakistan) where Dhoni seemed all at sea.
To be fair to #MSD he has won everything that there is. Both the ODI and T-20 World Cups and if you add the Champions Trophy (2013) to that it makes him the first captain to win all the three premier #ICC tournaments. He guided his club team #ChennaiSuperKings to #IPL glory twice. No other Indian captain in history has more wins in ODI and T-20 matches. Heck he even had a biopic made on him making him the first cricketer to have this privilege before even retiring. Perhaps it is the motivation that is lacking. The question before the Indian think tank is simple – should MSD be part of the team for #WC2019? The answer, one suspects is far from.