When you see India's scorecard against Sri Lanka in the first ODI at Dharamsala, it looks no less than a telephone number. At one stage, they were 7 down on 29 and even a total score of 50 was looking out of reach. Credit goes to brilliant bowling by the visitors who took advantage of the conditions after winning the toss and destroyed the hosts very early in the game.
The movement of the ball had left India's top order clueless. Rohit Sharma, who is leading Indian side in the absence of Virat Kohli could only manage 2 runs after struggling for 13 balls.
India's lowest score (54) in ODIs was looking under threat until India's senior-most cricketer in current Indian squad played his typical knock. MS Dhoni scored 65 important runs off 87 balls and that gave the silent home crowd something to cheer for.
Dhoni is habitual of batting with the tailenders. The Indian wicket-keeper batsman has batted lower in the order throughout his career. A failure in the middle order means Dhoni would have come to the rescue with the tail.
Of course, he can't do it alone. Against Pakistan in 2012, when India was 5 down under 30 runs, it was R Ashwin who won Dhoni's trust. Back in West Indies, when the men in blue needed someone to make them cross the line against Sri Lanka in tri-series final, it was Ishant Sharma who stood with him. During India's tour of Sri Lanka this year, when Akila Dananjaya was running through the Indian batting line-up, it was Bhuvneshwar Kumar and today it was Kuldeep Yadav.
Dhoni has mastered the art of batting with the tail. However, Yadav couldn't survive very long, but his 19 off 25 gave a push to India's innings. To add as many runs as possible with the last two batsmen, Dhoni relied on his old tactics to keep most of the strike.
MS Dhoni's innings could have gone on much longer had he got some support from the other end. Though he managed to put up a partnership of 41 with Kuldeep, 17 with Bumrah and 25 with Yuzvendra Chahal.
There was no contribution from Bumrah and Chahal in their partnership with Dhoni, but they faced 24 balls together which gave the former Indian skipper some more time to add some runs.
Bumrah at once had got Dhoni's faith before he played a rash shot which cost him his wicket.
This knock would surely go into the books as one of the best innings from Dhoni. The veteran batsman may not finish the game like he used to do once. But he is still India's man to hold the innings.
The skipper should know his role in the side and assign him his duty accordingly. He still has much more to give to Indian cricket.