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The MS Dhoni conundrum: Should he stay or should he go?

Animesh Gupta
6.30K   //    24 Oct 2016, 15:23 IST
MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni led India to the 2011 World Cup but his place in the current side has been questioned

Every sport is defined by the legends that have embraced it over the years and have elevated its stature beyond what was deemed possible. These souls inspire millions across the globe and enrich the sport through enhanced fan following on a permanent basis.

When it comes to India, the passion and attachment for the game are immense, especially when you talk about cricket. Here, the cricketing superstars are revered and looked up to unlike any other sport anywhere else in the world.

Cricket has acquired a cult-like status in India, and this is not specific to any generation. My love for the game was inherited from my parents whose emotional attachment was infectious. And that is largely the case of any other Indian household. 

What is the right time to leave the game?

Ask any expert and he or she would not have a definitive answer. Even the legends themselves don’t know about it; it is a tough call to make. Age, dip in form, shift in priorities or mental and physical pain are the various factors that contribute to the decision.

This is astonishingly similar across sports. Be it Pete Sampras or Sachin Tendulkar, one or the other of the above-mentioned factors did eventually play its part. And even though our heart wants to see our heroes wave their magic wands forever, it is humanly not possible.

The Dhoni conundrum

Ms Dhoni 2
With a number of younger players coming up the ranks, is Dhoni’s time up?

Today, as an ardent cricket lover, I argue whether Indian cricket’s most successful skipper across all formats needs to call time on his illustrious and decorated career. MS. Dhoni is a legend that has altered the course of Indian cricket forever.

He has redefined the notions of calmness on the field, gutsy decision making, audacious batting prowess, and bottom hand power, and has inspired a whole new gamut of youngsters from small cities who otherwise considered it tough to even dream of making it to the national side.

Dhoni’s ability to win matches out of nowhere and decimate bowling attacks at will surely be part of folklore for the next generation in a digitally savvy world. Much has been said and depicted about his life and that will continue to happen.

Cricketing superstars in India don’t live their lives alone. Their million fans live every moment with them. Sachin Tendulkar carried that burden for 24 years, Dhoni is experiencing similar expectations since 2005.

Also read: Is MS Dhoni losing his 'finishing touch'?

But at 35, the charismatic captain is a pale shadow of his past. Having given up the longer format in order to concentrate more on the shorter versions of the game, his performances have not improved much. His finishing touch has taken a beating. 

The recent failures to bail the team out against New Zealand and the West indies are so unlike Dhoni. The big hits have dwindled, and his jaded look does not help matters either. The T20 World Cup in March this year was also disappointing from Dhoni’s batting standards.

Although his glove work is still exemplary, his role of the finisher in the side is not yielding the desired results. And his reluctance to move up the order before yesterday’s ODI has baffled many fans like for me for ages now.

Also read: Sourav Ganguly rates Virat Kohli over MS Dhoni as India's best finisher

If you are of MSD’s calibre, expectations would be extremely high. But repeated failures from a such a champion elicit sad feelings. And when you have a leader behind you who has already shown his potential in the longer format, the voices for change grow immensely.

Bold decison making needed

I don’t see MSD going as far as the 2019 World Cup. Even though he is one of the fittest players in the dressing room, his batting form doesn’t look that bright. The remaining matches of the current series against New Zealand would be a great platform for him to assess his future; if he can build on his sizzling knock yesterday, things may change.

Even though I am a hardcore MSD fan, India needs a new finisher in the shorter format, and action needs to be taken in near future

Not many greats were able to time their exit from the sport properly. Some succumbed to the oddity of time, others to the expectations they had set for themselves. Sachin Tendulkar faced his exit when his form was not great, and MSD needs to evaluate that as well.

I desperately want that helicopter shot to come back, but even the legends fail to replicate their best at times. It is time for MSD to hang his boots and pass on the baton to a youngster who is waiting to make his mark.

No one wants to see the champion struggle for such a long period of time. It was quoted somewhere that one should leave the sport when people ask why did you do it, not when they say that you should have done it earlier. 

Please take a decision soon MSD.

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Animesh Gupta
A freelance writer and a wannabe author!
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