While one might get the impression at times that the MS Dhoni charm is fading from the minds of his countrymen given the increasing calls from the nation's supporters calling for the axe for the wicket-keeper, on the larger scale it has not affected his popularity across the country, as has been revealed by the raw numbers of a recently conducted survey.
Conducted by YouGov, with over four million participants, the observation showed Dhoni besting some of the biggest names across the country, and only Prime Minister Narendra Modi had numbers to suggest better likability than him.
The survey showed Dhoni having an "admiration score" of 7.7%. Arguably India's greatest cricketer of all time Sachin Tendulkar perched below Dhoni, scoring 6.8% and stalwart captain and prolific batsman Virat Kohli is much lower down the list than one would have expected, receiving votes accounting to a mere 4.5% on the scale in consideration.
This is a huge testament to the legacy of Dhoni, who had debuted for India in late 2004, has not only managed to stay on the field for such a long time as a consistent and reliable cricketer, he led the side to the greatest heights scaled in the country's history.
He remained humble in the hours of victory, accepted the defeats with grace, and in all has retained his position as one of the most beloved cricketers this country has ever had, with people still being hooked on to his charisma and cricketing genius.
However, after the recent T20Is and ODIs against England, Dhoni finds himself being highly scrutinized for showing a lack of intent in his batting and often looking like batting for consolation runs.
The emergence of the likes of Rishabh Pant and the increasing reliability of Dinesh Karthik ever since the Nidahas Trophy, for the first time Dhoni's place in the side might not be exactly guaranteed.
With the World Cup in a year's sight from now, the selectors and the captain would be interested in looking at the alternatives and see how they fare in case Dhoni starts seeming a misfit in the side.Published 27 Jul 2018, 00:24 IST