These are tough times for M S Dhoni fans. They, perhaps for the first time, might concede that their hero is not in the best of form. His finishing skills had been under fire and after the Kanpur ODI, these critics have got fresh fodder to blame him for the mess India created towards the end of the innings.
Dhoni walked in to join Rohit Sharma in the 40th over when the score read a decent 214/3. The situation was tailor-made for him to silence his critics. India needed 90 from the last ten overs, and fans, with baited breaths, were hoping for a Dhoni special. But his uneasiness in the middle on Sunday and his inability to hit the ball as well as he used to in the past weren’t a good sight for his fans around the world.
Boundaries have dried up, and it seems ones and twos are his primary source of runs at the moment. He found the ropes only on one occasion and that too thanks to a cheeky, but extremely risky, paddle-sweep off Dale Steyn.
How many times have we seen him playing a paddle-sweep? Undoubtedly, the shot fetched him and India crucial runs, but it was evident that he was no longer the man who could easily summon big hits under tense situations.
This was not the Mr Cool that we are used to. This is not the Dhoni who relishes a bit of tension in the middle. There were mix-ups with Rohit, one almost ending up as a runout. A sight not common with a Dhoni chasing totals for India.
Dhoni struggled, fought his way through and took the game into the final over. The home team needed 11, and young Rabada was with the ball.
The figure was very much gettable by Dhoni standards. But Sunday wasn’t ‘one of those days’. Fans would have visualised Dhoni hitting the ball over the bowler’s head and set the ball rolling for his redemption. The ball did go up but only to end up in the bowler’s safe hands. Any other day, Dhoni would have shown this short ball the stands, but this Sunday it was Rabada’s catch to be taken. Dhoni’s return to from will have to wait.