Why MS Dhoni should play despite his waning form
"Who are we to criticize MS Dhoni? But, I'd rather India have gone down with a bit of a fight than a whimper," pondered Nasser Hussain after a "bizarre" (as quoted by the media personnel) innings by MS Dhoni at the Mecca of Cricket Lord's against the England Lions earlier this year, eventually leading the crowd to boo at the World Cup-winning captain. Such has been the year for MS Dhoni, one of the best finishers in world cricket. Dhoni's average has been a dismal 28.13 at a strike-rate of 67.37 in 2018, his lowest in 14 years.
However, it's not just Dhoni who has struggled in the middle order and it would be unfair to solely blame one man for the middle order conundrum. There is still uncertainty over the middle order positions in the team. India ranks 10th (comparison from 18 ODI teams) in terms of the average for number 4 batting position post the 2015 edition of the Cricket World Cup. India has made as many as 8 changes for the number 4 slot since 2016. India falters way behind other teams when it comes to the performance of its batsmen from four to seven.
Many cricket fanatics believe Dhoni has lost the touch with age not on his side. But statistics could be misleading at times as the same man led his IPL side Chennai Super Kings to a record 3rd title after the Tamil Nadu-based franchise made a comeback in the IPL earlier this year. Not only was Dhoni dynamic on the field, but he was also among the runs, scoring 455 runs at an average of 75.83 and an astonishing strike rate of 150, which was one of the main factors for his side's triumph.
"I was sure in my mind that I wanted to bat up the order, because with age, me batting down the order was like quicksand," remarked Dhoni when asked about his IPL success with the bat. His comments could well be the hint for Virat and Ravi Shastri that it is time Dhoni is moved up the order (in terms of the number of overs remaining) and in return, he can guide other explosive batsmen such as Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya to carry India to safe waters.
Also, India cannot find anyone even near Dhoni in the immediate future when it comes to his artwork behind the stumps. Dhoni has been expeditious behind the stumps and the recent dismissal of Liton Das in the final of the Asia Cup just about highlights the same. MS is spot-on with his glove work and with the usage of DRS system, abbreviated affectionately as the "Dhoni Review System" by the fans. Dhoni had a success rate of 77.78% (2017) in the reviews, with the unsuccessful calls taken out of anxiety by the Indian captain Virat Kohli.
In conclusion, Dhoni should play the 2019 World Cup no matter what the circumstances are because of the experience the legend brings to the table. Also, it is time the team management settles on Dhoni's position and the home series against the Windies could be an ideal platform for MS to regain his lost spark, as he did for his IPL side a few months ago.