MS Dhoni has always preferred letting his bat do the talking. On Wednesday at the Holkar Stadium in Indore, the Indian ODI captain came up with a career defining knock of 92 which put all the Doubting Thomasses to rest. What went beyond the barrage of eight boundaries and four towering sixes he hit, was the pshycological point he managed to score over his legion of critics in the indomitable style that only a Dhoni can do. In the process, he also managed to prove that when it comes to the shorter version of the game, he is very much the man for leading the Indian team today.
In fact such was the authority and single handed demolition of the South African attack that despite the Indian team being in the dumps he managed to resurrect the innings after yet another top order collapse. And what augurs well for the 32-year-old MSD is the fact that he seems to have found the timing and range of his shots—something which was missing in the 2 T20’s and the first ODI against South Africa.
A lot of cricket experts are beginning to back MS Dhoni after his exploits in Indore. Kirti Azad a member of the 1963 World Cup winning team felt that it was all about Dhoni scoring runs. “Let’s not forget that Dhoni’s performance has come under such scrutiny as it is now. He was woefully short of form with the bat and that led the critics to bay for his blood. But this unbeaten knock of 92 has effectively sealed the lips of his detractors,” said Azad.
Another former cricketer felt that Dhoni’s trademark helicopter shot had been ‘missing’ and so have been some of the innovative shots which Dhoni was known for. “But in Indore what one saw was the resurgence of the Dhoni that we know of. He was cutting and pulling with the same ferocity of the batsman that he was in the past. So I think that the mere fact that he has rediscovered the timing and range of his shots augurs very well for Dhoni,” the cricketer said.
Confidence is what makes the difference between success and failure feels Rajinder Amarnath, a former cricketer. ‘The Dhoni one witnessed in Kanpur (in the first ODI) was the one in which one saw ‘;a laboured effort’ from the India captain. He tried to do everything –trying to make room, stepping out to hit the bowlers—none of these tactics worked for him in Kanpur. But the Dhoni we saw in Indore was the version we associate Dhoni with. He has got his confidence back,” said Rajinder.
Another factor which bodes well for the Indian ODI skipper is the fact that the captain in waiting Virat Kohli is going through a lean patch, feels another cricketer. ‘I think he (Dhoni) is lucky. The very fact that Virat is going through one of the worst phases of his batting career has ensured that Dhoni gets that extra bit of life. If Virat had been scoring well, then I think the selectors would have had no hesitation in even going to the extent of axing Dhoni. But then I have always felt Dhoni is a very lucky person,” said the cricketer.
Apart from Dhoni’s batting prowess, it was also his astute shuffling of the bowlers in the Indore ODI that earned him laurels from the experts. ‘What impressed me most was the way Dhoni used Axar Patel and Harbhajan early on in the South African innings. The spinning duo did not disappoint as they took four wickets between them. So its just not his batting he showed his mettle as a thinking captain is very much there,” said the former cricketer.
Former captain Anil Kumble still believes that Dhoni remains India’s best “finisher”.”I don’t think his role has changed. I don’t think he should be pushed at number four to play a different role. He showed that in Indore how good and focused he can be to achieve a win. When everyone else failed it was left to MSD to showcase his finishing skills He is still the best finisher India has,” said Kumble.