Will MS Dhoni in 2019 World Cup end up like Yuvraj Singh of 2014 T20 World Cup?
Yuvraj Singh was the toast of the entire nation after his Man of the Series performance in the 2011 World Cup with both bat and ball. His legend grew even more after a shocked nation came to know about how he was playing in the tournament with excruciating pain that cancer had inflicted on him.
The whole nation prayed for his recovery, which he fortunately did and then duly made a deserved return to India’s limited over sides. But he struggled mightily on his return. Yet the selectors picked him in the squad for 2014 T20 World Cup.
He continued to struggle through the tournament, but the then Captain MS Dhoni had enough faith in the capability of a player who was instrumental in India winning the 2011 World Cup under his captaincy. Dhoni had the belief that Yuvraj is a big-match player and would come good when most required.
In the tournament final, Dhoni sent Yuvraj in at number 4 in the eleventh over after India had got off to a slow start. What happened in the next few overs continue to haunt Indian cricket fans even now. Whatever little momentum was getting built thanks to a freely scoring Virat Kohli at the other end was almost killed by the mighty struggle of Yuvraj.
Yuvraj simply could not put bat to ball, and struggled to even rotate the strike. By the time he got out in the penultimate over after scoring just 11 runs off 21 balls, India had lost all their momentum.
India could manage only 130 runs in the stipulated 20 overs, and what was most unfortunate was India had lost only 4 wickets and batsmen like Suresh Raina did not even get to bat. Though it’s unfair to blame a single player for a team’s loss, a major factor in India failing to lift a second world T20 title was Yuvraj Singh’s batting.
In other words, Captain Dhoni’s misplaced faith in the capability of a struggling superstar teammate to come good in big matches possibly cost India another piece of World Cup glory. Is something similar possibly brewing in Indian cricket at the moment?
There are quite a few similarities in the continued struggles of MS Dhoni with the bat for a prolonged period of time now with the aforementioned struggles of Yuvraj Singh in the T20 World Cup of 2014. Just like Yuvraj then, Dhoni, a proven match-winner is struggling big time for quite some time now. And just like Captain Dhoni continued to show tremendous faith in Yuvraj then, Captain Kohli seems to have great faith in the struggling Dhoni to come good soon.
If Dhoni’s struggles with the bat continue and he still gets the backing of Captain Kohli to be selected in the Indian team for the 2019 ICC World Cup, one just hopes, for the sake of Indian cricket, that history does not repeat itself, and the chance to lift another World Cup does not go begging, once again, in the process.