I Am MS Dhoni and I Don’t Care; Welcoming Back Captain Courageous!
In the duration of just 1 ODI, here’s how Indian skipper MS Dhoni silenced his critics and also won a game for India.
What’s that they say about letting the bat do the talking?
Well, to define that phrase to perfection, MS Dhoni hosted a master-class in Indore on Wednesday and capped it off with a series equaliser against South Africa in the teams’ second ODI face-off.
He had been away for the last few months, having resigned from Test colours, and when MS Dhoni re-entered the Indian dressing room at the start of this tour of South Africa, the World Cup winning captain was surprisingly met with a lot more question marks, than usual.
Just three matches in - two T20s and an ODI- and some ‘greats’ of the game were already counselling him on news channels on the ‘proper’ time to retire.
Only this is MS Dhoni. And he doesn’t care.
The Indian limited-overs skipper had already lost the first ODI and his star spinner R Ashwin to an injury but in Indore, he took the fight to the Proteas. Three changes - Patel for Binny, Harbhajan for Ashwin and Mohit Sharma for Amit Mishra.
The murmurs were there... what’s he thinking?
Two hours into the match and the scorecard read 124/6. His famed batting line-up’s only contribution to the innings by this stage, was their steady applause from the sidelines. Dhoni’s critics were rubbing their palms. Who will defend this meagre total? What’s he doing without Mishra?
Only this is MS Dhoni and he doesn’t care.
Bring on the tail. Let’s start the party. Some lusty blows alongside Harbhajan, some quick running with Kumar and Patel and it was down to him and Mohit Sharma for the last three overs.
18 deliveries faced between the two and Sharma was allowed to confront just one. A flurry of dot balls, just a few singles. What was Dhoni doing?
He. Had a plan. Better to get a few boundary balls out of the way than concede the last wicket taking a double?
A sprinkle of fours and a maximum to end the innings. Dhoni finished on 92 and walked off unbeaten with Mohit by his side. A respectable 247 on the board.
Who’s past his prime again?
247 to defend and the Indians took the field under the lights in Indore. Harbhajan, Umesh, Bhuvneshwar and Mohit, supported by Axar Patel’s part-time spin.
A cruise for the Proteas?
36 in 6 overs and the skippers brings in his part-timer. Hashim Amla at the crease. Hashim Amla steps out and Dhoni nicks off his bails. The skipper and his choice of the all-rounder collaborating for the first wicket.
A couple of hours into the innings and the Proteas once again holding the edge. 131/2 after 23 overs. India needing a breakthrough and Dhoni puts in Patel once again.
This time the Axar doesn’t need his skipper as he sends back danger-man JP Duminy. Gone for 36. South Africa 139 after 25 overs.
A few more inroads at regular intervals and the visitors still just needed 81 off 18 overs. 5 wickets in hand. This was going to be another cakewalk. India was missing the second spinner. Why did they not play Mishra?
What was Dhoni thinking, why Mohit Sharma?
AB hits one in the air. Virat Kohli latches on at cover. Mohit Sharma has come to the party. India have the vital wicket.
Remember, he is MS Dhoni and he doesn’t care.
MS Dhoni didn’t care and he won’t. And he shouldn’t.
His decision to come in at number 5. His decision to drop Amit Mishra. His decision to leave Stuart Binny. It all worked for India. Worked this time. Just like it has for the more than half a decade.
The man knows what he’s done. He knows what he’s doing. He’s won a World Cup, so he clearly knows it better than you.
There is a reason he is MS Dhoni. There is a reason he doesn’t care.
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