When you hear the name Mahendra Singh Dhoni, what comes to your mind? The six in 2011 that send a stunned Wankhede into a frenzy, a long haired wicketkeeper leading his team to win the inaugral T20 world cup or defeating the English lions in their own backyard to lift the 2013 Champions trophy? Atleast for me these memories circle the name Mahendra Singh Dhoni and this would be mostly true for the Indian cricket fan given the gamut of achievements that MSD’s resume boasts of; then why has the cricket fan in us turned his/her back to arguably the best captain in the world?
M.S. Dhoni entered the Indian team in 2004, his performances in the India A squad earning him a regular position in the team. Not having a dreamlike start to his career (he got out for duck on his debut) Dhoni, true to his character bounced back and made 148 runs in just 123 against Pakistan at Vishakapatnam, showing the world a little preview of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
With none of the seniors ready to take up the burden of a new format, the reins were given to Dhoni and after winning the T20 world cup there has been no looking back. Dhoni has created one cricketing record after another. Who is the only captain to win all three major ICC tournaments? Dhoni. Which Indian captain has recorded the most number of wins in the larger as well as the shorter format? Dhoni. Who is the captain that does not only boast of laurels in the limited overs game but has also taken his country to the top of the test ranking? Dont sweat yourself.
Time and again Dhoni has proven his worth as a captain winning series overseas as well as at home. But obviously the present does not speak the same about Dhoni’s achievements and thus makes the cricket fan question his position in the team. So lets backtrack to the matches India has played till now against South Africa in the ongoing Freedom series.
If my memory serves me right, the entire Indian team was a band of sorry performers and that is ofcourse the Captain’s fault. If the star batsmen dont perform its obviously the Captain’s fault. If the leading wicket taker gets injured thats totally and undoubtedly Dhoni’s fault; how could he let Ashwin dive to stop the run, totally unacceptable. If the batsmen perform well or the bowlers cannonise the oppenents batsmen, then the captain’s role in the game becomes inconsequential but when the team loses, its all that one man’s fault because he took those decisions. Isnt it just hypocritical? (well thats a part of being Indian, i dont blame you)
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the only player to have served this long as a captain wicketkeeper batsman and apart from his achievements as a captain, his accomplishments as a batsman are also a thing of beauty. His score of 183* in 145 balls against Sri Lanka still stands a the highest runs scored by an individual in the second innings.
He is an unconventioanal player who is rightly called the best finisher in the world. But again the ongoing series tells a different story. Its a game which changes on its toes and is marked with trememdous pressure most of which is burdened by the captain and plus playing against the Proteas is always taxing. That cannot be an excuse of a mediocre captaincy and a shabby batting performance.
But to all those people who think that this is the end of the road for MSD and that Virat Kohli should be given the captaincy; it aint over till the fat lady sings, the series is still left. Who is to know what MSD might pull out of his bag. Remember he just took the game home for the Heros XI against The Rest Of The World XI, scoring an unbeaten 38 runs which included 4 fours and 1 six. Wait, that means he batted with a strike rate of 172.73 and ofcourse that is proof enough that he is no longer the best finisher.