It was in the year 2008 when MS Dhoni as the new Indian captain decided to drop Ganguly and Dravid for being slow in the field. After 11 years, Dhoni is having the same issue while batting. Life has come a full circle for MS Dhoni.
We all love MS Dhoni. For his unbeaten 91 in the World Cup final 2011, from his decision of giving the last over of Word T20 final to Joginder Sharma to the numerous last over wins, some amazing lightning-quick stumpings and humorous press conferences.
But as with everyone in sports, age overtakes performances, reflexes, reaction time and whatnot. The same is happening with the most excellent finisher of the game, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, mind you this is mostly with his batting, he’s still doing fine when it comes to keeping.
One of the best finishers of the limited over cricket has not been able to perform as per his reputation and this not happened in just one or two games but 14 out of 18 times since January 2017. He batted long enough but couldn’t launch himself for the onslaught he is famous for. Amazingly, only this year in IPL, he was in top gear, scoring at 134 strike rate. Of course, IPL is a T20 format but if a batsman can hit boundaries in one format he can definitely hit in another format too. Well, some may also argue that the bowling standard is not the same as at the International level. An argument in Dhoni’s defence by the fans that he can still win matches even though he has slowed down, is half observation without checking the stats.
18 innings below 80 strike rate (minimum 15 balls played)
- 25 off 36 against England in Kolkata, 2017. Came to bat at 102 for 3 in 19.4, got out at 173 for 5 in 31.4 overs, 71 runs added in that period, Dhoni 25 off 36, others 46 off 36, India lost the match by 5 runs.
- 4 off 16 against Pakistan in Champions Trophy final, can’t blame him for the loss but looked uncomfortable during his stay at the crease.
- 54 off 114 against West Indies in Antigua, when chasing 190. Came out to bat at 47 for 3 in 12.4 overs, got out on the last ball of the 49th over as the 8th wicket when the score was 176. India lost the match by 11 runs.
- 45 off 68 balls against Sri Lanka in Kandy, chasing 232 India had a great start as the openers added 109 runs in 15.3 overs but soon they were reduced to 131 of 7 in 21 overs, Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar (53 off 80) added the remaining runs and won the match for India.
- 67 off 86 against Sri Lanka in Kandy, while chasing 218, he added 157 runs with Rohit to win the match from 61 for 4 in 15 overs.
- 25 off 42 against New Zealand in Mumbai, batting first he came out when the team’s score was 144 for 4 in 29th over and got out in the 41st over with team’s total 201, Kohli scored 28 off 32 in the same period.
- 65 off 87 against Sri Lanka in Dharamshala, well, he was the only one to cross 20 runs mark in the Indian innings. India all out 112.
- 10 off 22 against South Africa at Capetown in 2018, came out to bat at 188 for 4 in 33rd over, added 40 runs with Kohli in 8 overs, Kohli scored 29 off 30 during that period.
- 13 off 17 balls against South Africa at Port Elizabeth, came out to bat in 45th over, couldn’t smash runs as per his liking that too batting first.
- 37 off 59 against England at Lord’s, chasing 323, came out to bat when India was at 140 for 4 in 27th over, went into the shell and never came out of it, only 2 boundaries when required run rate was over 7.
- 42 off 66 against England at Leeds, batting first Dhoni came at 125 for 3 in 25th over, batted till 45th over and again failed to launch himself and got out with 5 overs left in the innings.
- 8 off 17 against Afghanistan at Dubai in Aisa Cup, chasing 252, came out to bat when India was marching on for a win (127 for 2 in 21 overs), the slowest strike rate of the innings but still can’t be blamed for the tied match.
- 36 off 67 against Bangladesh in the finals of Asia Cup, chasing 223 he came out to bat in the 17th over (83 for 3) and got out in the 36th over without finishing the job once again, India won the match with the help of lower order’s contribution.
- 51 off 96 against Australia at Sydney in 2019, chasing 289 India was in deep trouble as they lost 3 wickets for 4 runs, Dhoni came and steadied the innings but added extra pressure. Rohit in the same period added 75 off 76, and when Dhoni got out, the required run rate reached up to eight and a half.
- 87 off 114 against Australia at Melbourne, chased down 234 in the last over and won the match for India with Jadhav (61* off 59).
- 26 off 42 against Australia in his home ground, chasing 314, came out to bat at 27 for 3 in the 7th over and got out in the 20th over, Kohli in the same period scored 29 off 35.
- 28 off 52 against Afghanistan in World Cup, the innings which started the debate of him being getting too slow in the middle overs.
- 50 off 72 balls against New Zealand, played well with Jadeja and recovered well but never able to launched himself which added more pressure on Jadeja to score a boundary. He leaves it too late for himself as well, 31 off the last 12 balls, a six and run out, all over for India.
Dhoni has a career strike rate of 87.56, but in the last 3 years, he batted with a strike rate of 81.36, a difference of 6. There are just 10 innings of over 100 runs strike rate whenever he batted for a minimum of 15 balls since January 2017.
Maybe the time has come to say goodbye; or maybe he is waiting for a farewell series in December where there is an ODI scheduled in Chennai, his IPL team’s home ground, against West Indies.
Cricket enthusiast, Tendulkar fan and a traveler !