In­dia de­bate Dhoni fu­ture

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

NEW DELHI — The “he­li­copter shot” has dis­ap­peared, the bound­aries are not flow­ing from his bat and the whis­per is now grow­ing louder that Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni ( pic­tured) is no more the mid­dle-or­der fin­isher who could sin­gle-hand­edly get In­dia over the line.

Even for his ar­dent fans, and he is still the most pop­u­lar player in the cricket-mad coun­try, it was painful to watch Dhoni strug­gle in Sun­day’s one-day se­ries opener against South Africa.

Time and again, he tried the big shots that once came out of his blade with amaz­ing reg­u­lar­ity and time and again he could not con­nect.

Known for his pen­chant to seal vic­tory with a six, ex­hib­ited fa­mously in the fi­nal of the 2011 World Cup, Dhoni man­aged only one bound­ary in his 31-ball or­deal as the wheels came off In­dia’s chase in the fi­nal overs in Kan­pur. Not that he did not try. He stepped out against Morne Morkel, made room against Dale Steyn and ran hard be­tween the wick­ets in the scorch­ing heat, try­ing to do with the legs what his bat could not.

His laboured bat­ting was all the more ev­i­dent seen against cen­tu­rion Ro­hit Sharma’s ef­fort­less stroke­mak­ing at the other end dur­ing their 55-run stand.

“Dhoni used to be great when the ball was pitched up to him,” former cap­tain K Srikkanth told Mon­day’s Times of In­dia news­pa­per.

“But bowlers ... have un­der­stood that the key is not to give him any room to ma­noeu­vre and Dhoni would not be the same player (again).

“Dhoni can still be an accumulator but I don’t think we are go­ing to see the same dev­as­tat­ing MSD in the days to come.”

Go­ing through a lean patch, Dhoni has also baf­fled many by wish­ing to bat higher in the or­der, hav­ing re­jected the same sug­ges­tion for the large part of his ca­reer.

Former cap­tain Anil Kum­ble is part of the fast-dwin­dling tribe still con­vinced 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 is still a good fin­isher,” said Kum­ble.

“One hit (in Sun­day’s match) and we would have been talk­ing dif­fer­ently. His strike rate has ob­vi­ously come down and the pitch did not help either.”

Dhoni also blamed the low-bounce at Green Park Sta­dium and rued how un­for­giv­ing the fans are.

“It’s not an easy job, it does not al­ways work your way,” he said af­ter the loss.

“It’s a gam­ble but of course that’s my job in the side. I’m some­body who has to fin­ish the job for the team.

“When you fin­ish a lot of many games, peo­ple al­ways re­mem­ber the ones you have not fin­ished.” — Reuters

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