There are a very few men whose name requires little or no introduction in today’s India. There are detractors and doubters everywhere. The creeping doubt seems to be “Alright, he was a great captain, but isn’t his time coming to an end? Why all the hype still?”
If only that was a simple question. We aren’t discussing just another cricketer. Not just another blot on the horizon. The discussion is about anyone, and anything but that.
MS Dhoni has single-handedly hauled himself into the Holy Pantheons of Indian cricket. A phenomenal achievement on its own, given that, subject to a lot of debate, most captains have had their teams pull the lion’s share of the load. The story of MS Dhoni began in adversity, a fact he will relish for sure. He’s one of the few who would. From that fateful day at the Wanderers, Johannesburg, when Joginder Sharma had been trusted to bowl the last over in a huge final, fate had different plans for the silken-haired Jharkand lad. He had big things in store for him. Great big things.
There is no necessity to remind the cricket lovers of this country about the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, and how MS Dhoni made a billion dreams come true on that night at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. We’ve all seen it. We remember it.
Fast forward to the ICC Champions Trophy, June 2017. Out come the pitch forks. Cries of heresy. A whole nation seems to be ready to bury their heroes, all based on one final, albeit a very important one, lost to our biggest rivals. The question to be raised is, are we ready to play the next big ICC tournament (the ICC cricket world cup) without MS Dhoni?
Virat Kohli, in all his raw talent and aggression seems an ideal way to move forward, leadership wise for the Indian team. However, what most people seem to forget is that, there have been moments on the pitch where Kohli’s youthful belligerence was perfectly complemented by MS Dhoni’s calmness and big game experience.
What Dhoni brings to the table is invaluable in so many ways. His ability to take victory and defeat in the same stride is something not only Kohli, but most young captains today can learn from, while his ability to adapt to different situations has been an object of envy for most rival captains.
Using MS Dhoni sparingly could be India’s greatest weapon come the 2019 ICC Cricket World cup. In all honesty, the West Indies tour was a perfect opportunity to rest some big names like MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya among others, with no disrespect to our Carribean counterparts. This tour could have provided a perfect opportunity to audition players like Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Kartik for the wicketkeeper/batsman role.
There are more difficult limited-over tours coming up for India before the World Cup. Keeping MS Dhoni ready for those kinds of tours would be the perfect preamble to a completely fit and raring-to-go MS Dhoni come the 2019 World Cup. Fatigue catches up with everyone. Even those presumed to be “indefatigable.” Maybe its time we all came to terms with that.
By Aravind Harish