Is MS Dhoni losing his 'finishing touch'?
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s dismissal in the second One-Day International against New Zealand in the ongoing One-Day series at Indore would be etched in his memories for long.India were in a position to cruise past New Zealand target’s of 243 with Dhoni surely and steadily getting into the groove to finish the game. But then tragedy struck. The Indian captain managed to drive one in the air and was out caught and bowled Southee, who took a brilliant catch diving to his right.
One generally does not see MS Dhoni not doing what he is supposed to especially when you take in the records he has created in the last decade. However, of late his finishing skills have been lacking.
Just prior to this series, India locked horns with West Indies at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground in a T20 international. India were chasing a huge target of 246 and they were well on course to winning it thanks to some extreme power hitting from KL Rahul.
It was expected that Dhoni who has earned the tag of being the world’s best finisher would clinch the match especially when India needed just 8 from the last six deliveries, but then the unthinkable happened.It was Dwayne Bravo who bowled the over and astonishingly got rid off Dhoni with the final ball of the innings to hand his side a one-run victory.
It was a tame looking shot too from the Indian skipper who managed to slice the slower one to short third man where Marlon Samuels who had earlier dropped a catch in the same over, gobbled it.
Some say Bravo got the better of him because he knew him too well thanks to their Chennai Super Kings connection and hence the result, others felt Dhoni was missing his usual touch.
Maybe the Jharkhand wicket-keeper batsman was thinking too much about the tense finish, instead of playing the ball on its merit. Bravo exploited that with brilliant change ups and spoiled what could have been one of the highest run-chases in T20 history. Later in the post-match presentation too Dhoni admitted that he had plans to tackle Bravo but the execution went haywire.
The game also reminded viewers off another heartbreaking and humiliating defeat against Zimbabwe in the first T20 earlier this year. Once again India needed just 8 to win off the last over and Dhoni was on strike. It was Neville Madziva then, who got the better off Dhoni. He only gave away five runs in the over to help his side notch a 2-run victory.
Here too it was the Indian captain who faced the ultimate ball off the game but a boundary was needed off it. A couple of matches and two months later Dhoni also failed in the West Indies T20.
In October, 2015 Dhoni failed to finish a One-Dayer against South Africa
It was October 11, 2015, and India were playing South Africa in the first ODI of a five-match series. It was once again a closely fought contest which went right down to the wire. Young South African pacer Kagiso Rabada was asked to defend 11 runs in the last over and quite surprisingly he pulled it off against the veteran. He even succumbed to the pressure and lost his wicket.
This, perhaps indicates to the fact that Dhoni is over thinking in such pressure cooker situations and such instances are beginning to take a toll on him more now. He is not getting any younger and it might be a physical thing too.
But then again, how can you forget the IPL 2016 game of the Rising Pune Supergiants where Dhoni blasted 23-runs off the last over to get his side across the line. However, in the IPL game, the circumstances were very different. RPSG had already crashed out from the tourney and there was no pressure on Dhoni whatsoever. Dhoni thus came out with a free mindset and tonked it to all parts of the ground to gift his side a consolation win. But he never quite got back to his best again after the game.
Maybe it all began in 2014 when India were playing England in a T20 in Birmingham. The visitors needed 16 of the last over and once again it was their captain who was on strike. He refused to run and thought of doing it all by himself but fell short by 5 runs.
It was one of the rarest of rare occasions then that India had lost with Dhoni being still at the crease and the Jharkhand man took it upon himself. Perhaps he lost a bit of confidence after the game.He finished off two easy chases in the World Cup in 2015 against West Indies and Zimbabwe but then again had quite a torrid time out there in the middle.
But then again cricketers go through these patches and Dhoni is just passing through one of them. Maybe be another successful run-chase would get him back the confidence, a thing which he desperately needs at this point in time. It is just too early to write him off.