This question has been doing the rounds all over social media for the last six months: Will Dhoni’s presence cost India the World Cup?
It keeps popping up every time MS Dhoni fails to make an impact with the bat and especially when his strike-rate is on the lower side. His strike-rate, in fact, has become a matter of national debate. That along with Dhoni’s waning finishing powers has raised doubts about his presence in the current Indian middle-order. While Dhoni has played a few good knocks in the recent past – he was Man of the Series in the ODIs in Australia recently – but he has struggled on more than one occasion to get things going and slowed down the pace of things in the middle.
Indian cricket fans are now genuinely concerned that in a crucial tournament like the World Cup, Dhoni’s ultra-slow approach along with his inability to move things along in the middle overs might cost India dear.
Dhoni’s slow approach might cost India dear
To put things in perspective: since January 2018, Dhoni’s strike-rate is 75.14 and he has only hit 6 sixes and 33 fours in the same period. Over the years it has been evident that the Dhoni of old, where he would bludgeon sixes at will and take any bowler apart, no longer exists. He takes his time to get settled, is a scratchy starter against swing bowlers and spinners and generally consumes a generous number of deliveries before he gets into rhythm. Sometimes he is able to pay off by making it up in the end but there are times when, even while chasing a target, he struggles and that makes things complicated for the team. What is adding to the pressure is the coming of Rishabh Pant – the young wicket-keeper who is a hard-hitting and impactful batsman. He has the potential to be a game-changer and has that X-Factor with him. But as Dhoni has taken up a slot in the middle, Pant is finding it hard to be slotted inside the ODI eleven. Can India afford to ignore a valuable batsman like Pant in such a precious tournament just to play Dhoni instead?
Virat Kohli and the team management have made it clear that they are going to back Dhoni completely and are looking at him to hold the middle order together and guide the team in the middle overs during the World Cup. But the concern still remains – What if Dhoni botches up in some crucial game at the World Cup and costs India a game? Are India willing to take that risk?
The upcoming World Cup will be the last one that MS Dhoni will feature in. It is almost certain that legendary Indian cricketer will bid the game adieu after the tournament. One hopes that he is able to bring out the best in him and go out in style. His legacy deserves that.