As MS Dhoni played yet another dot ball of the David Willey over, something that has never happened before was seen. Indian supporters at the Lord’s ground started booing the man that has bought them unlimited joy as captain and as a batsman.
MS Dhoni had become the pariah for the fans and was visibly blamed for India’s loss at hands of England on July 14. India was stumbling in the chase of 323 and MS Dhoni’s slow innings of 37 off 59 balls had incensed the crowds and one of the greatest players got booed on the day he reached the 10,000 run mark in ODIs.
But the question now arises is that at this point when 37-year-old MS Dhoni is in the twilight of his career, should he be made the scapegoat for India's losses. In this particular match, the top three failed to get going and while Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina got starts, they didn’t go on to score big runs and take India to safety. Dhoni’s innings admittedly was slow, but it was a lost cause by then for India.
Dhoni has been always the scapegoat for any loss that India has occurred in recent times, especially during the phase before the IPL 2018. He had lost that big hitting touch of his, couldn’t hit sixes at will and was struggling in general. But somehow he was managing to win the matches for India and every occasional loss was blamed on him.
But even now, when he has regained that big hitting form, Dhoni was still blamed for not pushing on the gas pedal when he came to bat in the Lord’s ODI. But people forget that India had lost all of their main batsmen and Dhoni had the company of Pandya and the bowlers left. He chose to keep the innings going longer and not getting bowled out and losing the match by 120-150 runs at that time.
He received support from Sunil Gavaskar who said to NDTV, "It is unfortunate that he has been made a scapegoat. Nobody is raising questions against the performance of players like Shikhar (Dhawan), Suresh (Raina), Virat (Kohli), Binny (Stuart). Everyone seems to be ignoring the performance of the bowlers as well. The entire blame has been put on Dhoni. It is unfortunate. I feel he is good enough to play for another three to five years."
Yes, Dhoni’s footwork and hard-hitting prowess have waned with time, but what most people forget is that he is the only member of the 10,000 runs ODI club to not bat in the top three, yet he is the only one to reach the milestone with an average of over 50.
However, one question is what everyone conveniently forgets is that why people still expect him to play like he did when he was younger. He can still hit the big ones, but the Indian team management should now think of moving him up the order and give him some cushion to bat with.
Having Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik, and Kedar Jadhav in contention for the finisher’s role should have Dhoni moving to no.5 in the batting order with either of the mentioned or other batsmen taking over the role of finisher from him and providing him with cushion to take India to victories like before, but in a more sublime fashion.
MS Dhoni has done everything for the Indian cricket with many tournament wins and at this moment of his career, he doesn’t deserve undue criticism. He has been brilliant behind the stumps and is one of the biggest reasons why the spin twins Chahal and Kuldeep have done so well. Apart from their talents, both have credited MS Dhoni as their biggest supporter and thanked him numerous times for his guidance from behind the stumps.
Dhoni is still one of the sharpest minds of cricket and often handles the field placing when Kohli fields at long off or long on. Kohli has some brilliant assistance in form of Dhoni which has made captaincy easy for him.
With World Cup 2019 just months away, MS Dhoni is determined to add one more feather to his already full hat of accolades and treating him like this everytime India loses the game, is not only unfair; but totally unjust to all his achievements and everything he has done for the Indian cricket team.