Commentator Ravi Shastri has seen MS Dhoni play since the very start of his career. Shastri has been a constant in the team of commentators when India play. In Mohali, when Dhoni stumped Ross Taylor, he remarked Dhoni was ‘faster than a pickpocket’. That was indeed a compliment for the veteran wicket-keeper who removed the bails in fraction of a second. When the decision was sent for referral, Shastri said since Dhoni was celebrating, Taylor must be out. This was another compliment acknowledging Dhoni’s understanding of the game.
One must say captain Dhoni is long past his prime years, but he is still one of the fittest players in the current Indian team. Captain cool has become leaner and meaner when it comes to his physique and his reflexes are better than ever. He has been demonstrating his athleticism and great wicket-keeping skills in the ongoing series against New Zealand. However, he is honest enough to admit the reality that age is catching up. And he admitted the fact that he was having some difficulty in rotating strike.
“I have batted lower down for a long time, I think 200 innings down the order. To some extent I am losing my ability to freely rotate in the middle, so I have decided to bat up and let the others finish,” PTI quoted Dhoni at the post-match ceremony.
This is a big statement from MS Dhoni. He has officially said that he is not assuming the role of a match finisher from now on. MS Dhoni had not been able to finish off matches, perishing before making the winning runs. This was not the case before. He had not scored a half century in a year. Against New Zealand, he promoted himself at number 4 and scored 80 runs, helping the team to a 7-wicket win. Virat Kohli, who has been phenomenal in chases, did it again for India as he scored 154 runs not out and saw the team home. Dhoni not only depended on Kohli for finishing off matches. He said it was easy for him to bat alongside Kohli.
Courtesy: YouTube/John G
“But I know I should still look for the big shots. Once you get 15-20 runs, you get into the groove. There were points in the middle where I had to pull myself from playing big shots, and batting with Virat helps because we know we can get boundaries, and get those quick singles and doubles.”
Watch: When Dhoni hit the ball out of the ground
Now, the big question is, who India’s big finisher can be when Virat Kohli fails? It is very difficult to find a Yuvraj and a Dhoni every now and then. Indian team management is trying to find an answer to this question. Currently, their bets are on Hardik Pandya. Management has shown their confidence on Pandya. Hardik Pandya has proved his credentials as a big hitter of the ball in IPL. He scored 38 runs in the Delhi ODI, almost steering the team to win. He, however, lost his wicket. India lost the match afterward. If Hardik Pandya has to done the cap of a match finisher, he will have to develop a temperament that Dhoni has.
Another prospective match finisher could be Kedar Jadhav. Jadhav, scored 41 in second ODI, against New Zealand. He has also been troubling New Zealand batsmen with his bowling. Bowling all-rounder R Ashwin is also handy with bat.
MS Dhoni said that as he comes up the order, younger batsmen will get a chance to play in the low order. Hence, they will get exposure as match finishers. Dhoni will have to work with the youngsters and develop their temperaments to finish off matches. They lack in big match mentality, not talent.