World Cup 2019: The Dhoni conundrum continues as India fails to find momentum in the death yet again
MS Dhoni is without a doubt the most successful captain and the best wicket-keeping batsman India has produced, but over the last year or so there has been an issue with his batting approach. A lot of Pakistani fans were disappointed with the way he paced his innings against England, but Indian fans and avid watchers of the game have seen Dhoni do this several times in the recent past. It was not too long ago when he was booed against England after scoring a slow 50 in a losing cause during last summer's tour.
Take the games in this year's World Cup, against Afghanistan, West Indies, England, and Bangladesh: Dhoni either consumed plenty of dot balls or did not play with the tempo that the situation demanded. There's no doubting that Dhoni has all the experience in the world but sometimes you just have to wonder what is causing him to play in this manner. Is it age? Is it the fact that India has a long tail? Or is it just the self-belief that as long as he stays at the crease and takes it deep, he can probably win the match for his side?
Whatever be the case, he will have to try and alter his game according to the situation, especially in a semifinal or final. Yes, if the situation requires him to hold the fort then so be it, but if the asking rate is above 10 then he has to go all out like the Dhoni of old.
There is no doubt that Dhoni contributes to the team in more ways than one, he is still quick with the gloves behind the stumps and also uses all his experience to adequately guide Kohli in the field, especially when the pressure is on. You never know when he'll pull a rabbit out of the hat in the knockouts and win India the game with the bat but in general, if he tweaks his mindset and is more positive from ball one it will benefit both him and team India.
Many people have questioned why Dhoni hasn't taken the IPL approach because when he batted for CSK in the recently concluded season, he was striking the ball at a higher rate and was much more aggressive with his intent. One reason might be that in the IPL he is playing a 20-over game whereas in the World Cup, 50 overs is a long time and he doesn't want to throw away his wicket early on.
Also, the fact that India's tail has not been wagging might be playing at the back of Dhoni's mind. If he gets dismissed then the tail won't have the ability to win the game for India or finish the innings properly and this added pressure probably plays on his mind while he is batting.
Nonetheless, both against England and Bangladesh Dhoni's batting did let his side down in terms of momentum and reaching an expected score. 350 was well on the cards against Bangladesh when Dhoni arrived at the crease but his approach simply slowed down the rate and put pressure on the other batsmen. In a World Cup match, you have to play according to the situation and sometimes let go of your methods if it does not suit your team at that particular moment.
India's top order is firing on all cylinders but there is still criticism of their middle order. Imagine the day the top order fails. That is when Dhoni will have to step up alongside Pant, Hardik, and Karthik. This team has the potential to go all the way and a change in approach and mindset of their middle order batsmen will give them the added boost.
Dhoni doesn't have to hit every ball but he should at least rotate the strike consistently instead of eating up dot balls. He still has a match-winning innings in him, and the whole of India will be praying that this occurs in the semifinals or the finals of the World Cup.
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