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Is he still the finisher he was?

MS Dhoni is under pressure after failing to click in the ODI series against England

Is he still the finisher he was?

MS Dhoni is one of the most successful cricketers as under his leadership India won the first World T20 in South Africa in 2007, a triangular series in Australia for the first time in 2007-08, the Compaq Cup in 2009, Asia Cup in 2010, the 50-overs World Cup in 2011 and the Champions Trophy in 2013.

Besides, India remained the No 1 team in Test cricket between December 2009 and August 2011 under his captaincy.

Apart from these triumphs for his country, Dhoni also won IPL and Champions League for Chennai Super Kings.

Dhoni took over as the skipper in 2007 after India had crashed out of the World Cup in the first round. He immediately made a difference and in his first major assignment led India to the World T20 title.

Normally all-rounders are the highest impact players in ODI cricket as their dual skills of batting and bowling help the team a lot. But Dhoni contributed in three ways: as the wicketkeeper, as a middle-order batsman and as captain.

In January last year, Dhoni stepped down as the captain of the one-day and Twenty20 sides, but he continues to play under Virat Kohli.

Last week, during the second ODI against England, Dhoni reached the landmark of 10,000 runs. He is the fourth Indian and 12th overall to complete 10,000 runs, joining his former teammates Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.

The 37-year-old Dhoni achieved the feat in the 273rd innings of his career. He is the fifth fastest to reach the landmark in terms of number of innings. Only Tendulkar (259), Ganguly (263), Ricky Ponting (266) and Jacques Kallis (272) reached the milestone in fewer innings than him.

Interestingly Dhoni’s average of 51.30 is the highest among all the players who have scored over 10,000 runs. Tendulkar (44.83) and Kallis (44.36), the next two, are far behind.

The list of top run getters in ODIs is still headed by Tendulkar with 18,426 runs. Behind him are Kumar Sangakkara (14,234), Ponting (13,704), Sanath Jayasuriya (13,430), Mahela Jayawardene (12,650), Inzamam-ul Haq (11,739), Kallis (11,579), Ganguly (11,363), Dravid (10,889), Brian Lara (10,405), Tillakaratne Dilshan (10,290) and now Dhoni.

Dhoni is only the second wicketkeeper-batsman to score over 10,000 runs. Sangakkara scored 14,234 runs in 380 innings.

Dhoni is also the fourth wicket-keeper to complete 300 ODI catches. The first three were Adam Gilchrist (417), Mark Boucher (403) and Kumar Sangakkara (402).

In the ICC Champions Trophy in June last year, when Pakistan beat arch-rivals India in the final, people started saying that Dhoni was no longer the finisher that he had been. They were proved correct in the last two ODIs against England when Dhoni failed to save the game and India lost the series 2-1.

When selector MSK Prasad with his colleagues announced the Indian ODI team for Sri Lanka tour earlier this year, they dropped Yuvraj Singh and said that Dhoni would remain in the team if he delivered.

Dravid has also urged the selectors and the team management to take a call on the future of the team as the team is to be built for the 2019 World Cup.

But Virender Sehwag has insisted that no other player has the experience that Dhoni has in the middle and lower order which will be helpful for India in World Cup 2019.

Sehwag says the BCCI management should not worry. If he remains fit he should be part of the 2019 World Cup, he adds.

Dhoni proved Sehwag right in the second and the third ODI against Sri Lanka. In the second ODI at Pallekele, India were 131-7 at one stage while chasing 232. Dhoni (45 not out) along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (53 not out) took the team to the target.

In the third ODI, the Indian top and middle order once again failed and again it was Dhoni (67 not out) who with opener Rohit Sharma (124 not out) took India home.

Dhoni has showed his maturity and self-confidence in high-pressure situations. Dhoni was under criticism when India were routed 4-0 in England in 2011, and he was the captain when India were whitewashed in a four-match series by Australia in 2011-12.

The criticism became harsher when India were beaten 2-1 by England in 2015, their first series loss to the Englishmen on home soil since 1984-85.


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Khurram Mahmood

Khurram Mahmood 2019

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