Why Dhoni is an integral part of the Indian team going into the 2019 World Cup
The last thing that we can do, while discussing a great sportsman is, to write him off. For, these are men made of a totally different mindset inaccessible to the lesser mortals of the sport. These are men who bounce back every time they fall, look at the challenge in the eye and vanquish it.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is one such example.
He did not have a good 2018. He could manage to score only 275 runs at a below-par average of 25.00 and a strike rate of just 71.43.
Many former cricketers and armchair experts opined that Dhoni was well past his prime, and should make way for younger talent. But Dhoni, the level headed sportsman that he is, did not get flustered by all this. He has been playing top-flight cricket for a decade and a half now, and he knew that the best way to answer his critics was with the bat.
In the recently concluded ODI series against Australia, Dhoni scored three consecutive fifties in the 3 ODIs, including a match-winning 87*, ended the series with a staggering average of 193.00, and bagged the Player of the Series award as well.
One common feature that we noticed in all the three matches was that Dhoni came in early, played himself in, and then unleashed the attack on the opposition. At 37, Dhoni needs to bide his time in the middle. That is exactly why Dhoni should bat at number four in the batting order.
For, at number four, Dhoni can afford to have a good look at the bowling, get a feel of the pitch and the match situation, and settle down.
He can play the role of sheet anchor, allowing the other batsmen to bat around him, and take the match deep. Dhoni has openly admitted that he is willing to bat at any position as per the requirements of the team, but captain Virat Kohli should get Dhoni in at four to get maximum value from the legendary cricketer at this stage of his career.
As far as wicket-keeping is concerned, Dhoni’s gloves continue to work magic from behind the stumps. The bails are whipped away in a flash if a batsman’s foot is in the air for even a fraction of a second, Dhoni goes and whispers something in the bowler’s ear, and it works magic for the team. Kohli even leaves it to Dhoni to set the field at critical situations in a match.
However, the most important role, which many of us tend to overlook very easily, is the role that Dhoni plays in the dressing room. His mere presence adds such a calming influence to the dressing room and he plays mentor to many young cricketers.
It is time that we stop pointing fingers at him when he doesn’t score runs because Dhoni is one man who will pack his bags for good the moment he feels that he is a burden on the team.
Dhoni is a man who has seen it all, has faced the biggest of stages, and the amount of experience that he brings in is invaluable. That is precisely the reason why Dhoni is an extremely integral part of the Indian team going into the 2019 World Cup.