Captain's still in the Game

Being written off as a washed-up captain and player, the dejection and low morale can be a lot to deal with for any sportsperson. The situation was no different for MS Dhoni. Having had a mediocre season in 2015, including an ODI series defeat to neighbours Bangladesh and little victory in the opening months of 2016, the rest period in the months to follow was seen by many as a precursor to the permanent retirement of a man who was once an indispensable force for the Indian cricket team. Times looked to be getting only tougher for the skipper as India’s phenomenal rise in test cricket under VIrat Kohli only mounted further comparison on the 35 year-old Dhoni with his younger counterpart. Most believed that it was time for Kohli to take over captaincy of all three formats, considering the fact that Dhoni was no longer able to deliver and his craft was showing blatant cracks.


But if there has been anything constant in Dhoni’s game through the years, it has been his resilience. No matter how steep the ask, Dhoni has never been the one to back down without fighting a good fight. He has persisted through the depths of his career only to resurface as a force to recon with. However, the growing years have been cause for much concern because previously, he had the arrogance of youth that empowered him to get through major debacles. But things are different now, for most feel he has exhausted his reserves. Dhoni, as always, chose to think differently.

The recently concluded New Zealand’s tour of India is a testament of that. After a glorious test series in the first half, Dhoni’s ODI team had a tall order to meet in the five matches of the limited overs. The first in Dharmasala saw India beat NZ by 7 wickets, while the next match, in Delhi, was one where New Zealand earned a win. In the third match, the hosts were back in the race with a convincing victory but were thrown off again in the fourth match where the Kiwis struck gold. The ODI series ultimately boiled down to the final decider and India was under immense pressure to perform and win the home series. The jubilant victory came as a result of a great day of bowling for the team in blue. However, the complete series was marked by fine captaincy on Dhoni’s part which gave India the edge. This was not all – Dhoni the batsman was also resurrected after a long drought. He reinvented himself in this series as an accumulator at the top of the order rather than playing his usual part as a finisher in the middle order. This move was strategic and greatly benefited India in the crunch times during all five matches. His partnership with Kohli was lauded by all for giving the team a much needed stability.

All in all, Dhoni presented himself as more refined, rejuvenated and still very much in control of the game. This come-back of sorts has sparked many players and cricket enthusiasts to remark that he is even capable of guiding India in the 2019 world cup.



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Ekasmayi Naresh

Ekasmayi Naresh

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