image courtesy-Sanjay Kulkarni
Well when Dhoni was new to the International scene, he played without the fear of any responsibilities on his shoulder, without the fear of being judged. Dhoni was raw, brutal and aggressive right from the start and that was all Dhoni about. We all know him by that reputation which he created in the first 4-5 years of his international career.
But as soon as he was made the captain in all the formats, as soon as hundreds of crores were pumped into his brand value by IPL teams and BCCI and numerous other brands. Dhoni knew he can’t be reckless anymore, he knew he cannot start hitting from the very 1st ball, he can’t score a 25 or a 30ball 50 anymore in ODI’s consistently. Dhoni knew that he is the captain, he knew crores are riding on him on every ball he faces and that made him conscious which made him change his game completely.
The man who would hit sixes against the best of the bowlers out of the park, the man who would score 183 off 145balls vs Sri Lanka, 148 off 124balls vs Pakistan, 50 off 21balls, 26 and 28runs in an over, all of a sudden, you see him score 25 off 42balls, 57 off 116balls in ODI’s and so on. In the last 3years of his international cricket, the first 40-45balls he has faced in every innings, his strike rate has been just above 58 which is considered a test strike rate. No doubt, he shifts gears in the end overs once he is set but when he gets out in that zone between 40 to 50balls, he is usually in his 20 to 30’s and that’s where the Dhonian crisis occurs. If he gets going from that stage of 40 to 50balls and surpasses that stage, no doubt he ends up scoring at a strike rate of 100 or even more than that but if he is out in that zone of the first 35 to 50balls, India faces damage to the run rate as well as it dents the entire game, shifts the momentum towards opposition and opponents take full advantage of that.
The same thing happened versus New Zealand when Dhoni scored 25 off 42balls, the kind of innings which has become very common now from his willow. When thousands were chanting his name, “Dhoni we want six, we want six” he lost his wicket in the crucial zone of 35 to 40 overs and not only reduced the run rate but also changed the momemtum towards New Zealand. Kohli was scoring run a ball, the run rate was steady but Dhoni as usual kept on being defensive and lost track too when he lost his wicket. Even in the recent ODI vs England when the run rate required had shooten up to 27.00, Dhoni scored a 59ball 37 much to the shock of the spectators and was booed by the fans.
There is no denying the fact that he is still an electric and a sharp wicket keeper, his reflexes have not waned, his batting is equally strong but what we all fans want to see is that he starts playing his natural game, the natural game which actually gave him all the name, fame and love from crores of fans. Yes we know Dhoni, you have to be practical at the crease, but now you only have 2 or say max 4years of international cricket left. 4years? Not even sure about that, we personally believe you should play carefree cricket, like the same 24yr Old Dhoni who came to the crease with long locks of brown hair. Now you are also rested from the burden of captaincy, change your batting order, open the innings sometimes, come one down sometimes just for fun, sometimes play as a pinch hitter, sometimes just target a bowler and smash him for sixes, you are at the fag end of your career, why not leave the field by giving your fans the much needed batting they want to see from you, why not leave the field on a high, in high spirits Mr.Dhoni? Enough of a calm head and practicality, now we want that brutal, hard hitting and aggressive Dhoni for the last 2-3 years which you are still deep down within!