The 5 darkest phases of MS Dhoni's career
In the wake of India's exit from the 2019 ICC World Cup, many are theorizing as to why a team of such caliber and promise failed to lift the trophy. Many skeptics questioned the team management's decision to send inexperienced players like Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant ahead of MS Dhoni, although some doubts were also raised about the latter's underwhelming performance throughout the tournament.
While it was evident from the beginning that India had a lack of quality batsmen at the number four spot, the rare failure by the top order in the semifinal had the Men in Blue bowing out of the tournament for good.
At the center of all the drama stood Dhoni. Widely regarded as the greatest finisher in the history of ODI cricket, Dhoni could not recreate the same magic as he failed to get the team over the line.
Dhoni looked like a shell of himself in the tournament, often playing at a slower pace than usual. Once revered for his dedication and commitment towards the team, detractors on social media pressurized him to retire in the aftermath of India's World Cup campaign.
Even after leading India to several monumental series and ICC tournament wins in his illustrious career, Dhoni has been at the center of controversies many times. In this article, we look at five such instances when the legendary Dhoni was at a low point.
#5 The aftermath of the 2007 ICC World Cup
Soon after India's campaign at the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup ended disastrously in the group stage, infuriated fans vandalized the homes of the Indian cricketers and burned their effigies. Although Dhoni was a youngster in the team at that time, his house was nevertheless stone-pelted by political activists of JMM (Jharkhand Mukti Morcha).
It was one of the darkest days in the history of Indian cricket, with angry mobs all over the country taking to the streets protesting and creating a ruckus. A security team was deployed at Dhoni's house as a precautionary measure.
Five months later, a young Indian team led by Dhoni redeemed themselves when they won the inaugural ICC T20 World Cup held in South Africa.
#4 2012 CB series in Australia
Following a 0-4 drubbing at the hands of Australia in the 2011-12 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, India were scheduled to play the CB series, a tri-series between host nation Australia and Sri Lanka. Dhoni, the captain at that time, had a meeting with Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. All of them aged between 33 and 39, were scrutinized for their slow fielding and lack of fitness.
Dhoni told them that he couldn't play all three of them at the same time owing to fielding issues. Eventually though, all three played the tournament with Gambhir being the second-highest run-getter for India after Virat Kohli.
Rumors started to fly about a possible rift between Dhoni and the senior players, which the captain was heavily criticized for by the media and the fans alike. India were eventually knocked out of the series as the final was played between Sri Lanka and Australia.
Many believed that Dhoni's selection method was one of the main reasons why India performed so poorly in the series. Following the tri-series, both Gambhir and Sehwag did not last long as they were permanently ousted from the side soon after, playing no more than 20 ODIs.
#3 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal
It all started with the Delhi police arresting S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan on charges of spot-fixing. However, things started going downhill when Chennai Super Kings team principal Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested on charges of betting, conspiracy and cheating by the Mumbai Police.
Many fingers were also pointed at the team management and MS Dhoni, though these rumors never took off. Chennai Super Kings were subsequently suspended from the IPL for two years by the Supreme Court appointed RM Lodha committee.
Dhoni was bought by the Rising Pune Supergiant and played the next two seasons with them. Chennai Super Kings made a return to the IPL in 2018, winning their third IPL trophy that season.
#2 Conflict of interest
In the year 2015, the BCCI initiated a probe into MS Dhoni's alleged involvement in Rhiti Sports Management, a company in which he was rumored to have a 15 percent stake. It was a company that managed the interests of Dhoni and his Chennai Super Kings teammates Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, to name a few.
Dhoni was lambasted by several former cricketers for having a stake in the company. Later the firm cleared the air on the controversy by stating that Dhoni previously owned shares in the company which he did not have at the time of the dispute.
The documents that later went public indicated that there had been a conflict of interest as far as Dhoni’s involvement with Rhiti Sports was concerned. Though this issue did not lead to any ill effects, it was nevertheless a bitter controversy that was harshly criticized by former Indian cricketers.
#1 The aftermath of the 2019 ICC World Cup
Dhoni has most recently come under fire for not performing up to the mark in ODIs. The cricketer once revered for his ability to finish off games consistently failed to get the team over the line in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup.
After India's shock defeat in the semi-finals at the hands of New Zealand, many fans openly hurled abuses directed at Dhoni on social media. Many media outlets and TV analysts also started showing farewell montages on TV, even before Dhoni had announced anything himself.
On the flip side, many prominent celebrities and cricketers urged Dhoni not to retire. The Indian cricket team and the management committed mistakes on many counts, as Dhoni should have been sent to bat when the team was already down three wickets. Instead, they waited until things got out of hand.
Dhoni with the help of Ravindra Jadeja batted valiantly as they put on a partnership north of 100 runs. But in the end, the effort was just not enough as the team fell short by a few runs.