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Cricket World Cup 2019: He pulled off a Dhoni!

A section of India’s vociferous cricket fans will lament that Dhoni is now a shade of his former self barring a few moments when the eyes light up and you hear the sweet crack of the willow.

June 29, 2019 / 10:02 AM IST

The chips are down, the team is struggling to get quick runs with a 38-year-old awkwardly occupying the crease batting on 20 from 40 balls. Enter the young fearless upstart to take charge. He hammers 36 from 21 balls to help the team post 268/7.

The only thing you missed on your television screens on June 27 is that a younger MS Dhoni sauntering into Old Trafford, to take control of the wheel from the 38-year-old version of himself.

Fast forward to the 27th over of the Windies run-chase, the 38-year-old wicket-keeper had by now let quite a few balls escape past him, missed out on a stumping and let go of what could have been an epic catch. Enter the young turk once again to take charge. This time when the West Indies' only centurion -- at CWC 2019 -- Carlos Brathwaite nicked one off Jasprit Bumrah, Dhoni flew to his right to pluck the ball out of thin air with just one hand.

One could be forgiven for being a bit perplexed by these chain of events, but such was the disparity in Dhoni's performance against the Caribbean side. He seemed to struggle with the bat initially but signed off with aplomb, even taking 16 runs from the final over. Then he wasn’t his usual fastidious self behind the wickets, but flew across to his right and claimed an absolute blinder. Twice he was up against the wall and both times Dhoni managed to bail himself out brilliantly.

A section of India's vociferous cricket fans will lament that Dhoni is now a shade of his former self barring a few moments when the eyes light up and you hear the sweet crack of the willow.

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Granted, the ‘Real Dhoni’ may not always walk out along with the Man wearing the no. 7 jersey. But this new Dhoni is the same man whom Indian vice-captain Rohit Sharma endorsed for the hotly contested no. 4 spot at the turn of the New Year. He is the same man who according to Kohli, "is one guy in the middle who knows what a par score is on this pitch.

"He can play calculated cricket, that's his strength, and he finds a way of winning. He is a legend of the game."

Do India need to do away with Dhoni? I’d think not. A 'Legend of the game’ is an asset you would rather have with you on the field than outside of it. Sure the runs won’t come at the same pace as before, but India enjoy the luxury of a certain Hardik Pandya, who has been groomed to slam his foot on the accelerator. And for moments when they might just need to pick up the pace, who’s to say the younger spirit won’t take over and once again we’ll see glimpses of that swashbuckling youngster reappear who hammered bowlers with disdain.

For now, the team requires an experienced head around for when they’ll need to stay afloat after an early collapse. He may not score at astronomical strike-rates anymore, but rest assured if the man still wearing the no. 7 jersey is out there, that fat lady is too busy glued to the television screen to start singing anytime soon.
Dustin Yarde
first published: Jun 29, 2019 10:02 am

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