MS Dhoni, the inspirational skipper of the Indian limited overs side has turned 34 today. Dhoni has been an institute within himself and has millions of fans across the globe. His fans don’t just look up to him for inspiration, but rather worship him like a Deity.
There has been no hindrance in the ever increasing aura of this great Indian. Dhoni single handedly has taken Indian cricket to great heights. It has been the result of his rousing leadership that today India is considered to be a gigantic force in world cricket.
People though still remember Dhoni as that shy and humble wicketkeeper who had long lion like colored hair locks. That hairstyle of Dhoni still is a rage among the guys in India. Dhoni however, has come a long way since those early days.
Soon after being elevated to perform the skipper’s duty, Dhoni led India to an emphatic win in the ICC World T20 2007. Dhoni led a squad of youngsters in South Africa which wasn’t highly experienced, but was full of positivity. Dhoni just utilized this positive energy and led the Indians like a true lion hearted leader. In many ways, it was that triumph in South Africa which opened the floodgates for Indian cricket.
The stimulating win in South Africa was followed by a tri series win in Australia, where Dhoni led an emotionally charged up side to glory. With Dhoni at the helm of the affairs, the Indian side never looked out of sorts, atleast in the shorter formats. But the one triumph, which was the ultimate pinnacle, was the 2011 World Cup win. A billion dreams were realized on the 2nd of April 2011, when MS Dhoni led by example in the final of World Cup, to steer India to a victory. That just tops the achievements list of Dhoni.
Another similar win to the 2007 T20 World Cup win was the 2013 Champions Trophy win in England. India once again went into the tournament with minimal expectations. To add to that, there were off field issues as spot fixing had just rocked the 2013 edition of the IPL. There was immense burden on Dhoni. But as soon as the tournament began, the worries eased up.
In the very first game, Dhoni played a masterstroke by elevating Rohit Sharma to the opener’s slot. That move did miracles to the Indian side, and will continue to do so in the years to come. The Indians were undefeated in the tournament as they won yet another ICC trophy under Dhoni. Dhoni thus, became the only captain to have won the T20 World Cup, the World Cup and the Champions Trophy.
But are things looking optimistic for Dhoni in the years to come? Till how long will Dhoni be able to sustain his charisma and charm? Unfortunately for Indian fans, the answers to these questions do not yield encouraging replies.
Since the last 18 months, Dhoni has begun to resemble a pale shadow of himself. He is no longer that old skipper who could control the proceedings of the game as though he was playing a game of chess. In several ways, his leadership tactics in ODI’s too resemble the tactics he used in overseas test matches. Dhoni has become a tad too defensive in ODIs.
When he retired from test cricket, viewers expected that Dhoni would be far more aggressive in the ODI’s. The World Cup soon followed his test retirement and Dhoni led the side pretty efficiently. The best part about Dhoni the captain in that World Cup was that he trusted his pacers to a colossal extent and they repaid all the faith instilled in them.
But in the semi-final against Australia, Dhoni was back to being defensive. He once again let the game slip in the middle overs as Steve Smith consolidated for Australia. The dismal performance of his key bowler Ravindra Jadeja didn’t help him either. The poorest move from Dhoni in that game was to give Mohit Sharma the last over. Sharma had already been thrashed and was low on confidence. Rather than giving the ball to Umesh Yadav, who had been his best bowler, Dhoni trusted Sharma. That obviously had a denting impact as the momentum once again shifted towards Australia.
Another reason which makes people feel that Dhoni has a bleak future is his captaincy characteristics. Dhoni post the drubbing to Bangladesh recently said that he didn’t want to go with pacers who just bowled quick but had no control over their bowling. Dhoni rather said that he trusted bowlers who were more accurate. It was understood that the bowler was Umesh Yadav who was being indirectly criticized. Yadav had been Dhoni’s best bowler in the World Cup and judging him on the basis of just one failure in Bangladesh wasn’t worth appreciation from Dhoni. It must be noted that the wickets in Bangladesh had nothing for the seamers who relied solely on pace and bounce.
Dhoni and Kohli (India’s test captain) are skippers with two contrasting ideologies. While Dhoni trusts his spinners more and is relaxed, Kohli has the utmost faith in his pacers. Kohli believes in being aggressive and trusts the likes of Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav to a great extent.
Dhoni however, hardly has any faith in genuine pacers. With two different skippers, there is bound to be some resentment within the dressing room. Yadav himself admitted that he is far more comfortable bowling under Kohli.
Dhoni with the bat too is no longer the terrorizing finisher. He has now taken a call to bat at number 4, and that is a positive move as he can spend more time in the middle before exploding towards the death overs. With his next ODI assignment against South Africa, Dhoni has ample of time to get rest. He surely can be back in style against the visiting Proteas.
Dhoni will take a call on his career post the 2016 T20 World Cup in India. If his fitness is by his side then we might well see Dhoni leading India in the 2017 Champions Trophy and gradually in the 2019 World Cup. But as of this moment, it is premature to jump to any conclusion. We just hope that Dhoni remains in the best of health and has that billion dollar smile on his face for an eternity.