Mahendra Singh Dhoni had played a match winning knock of 78 runs from 79 balls in the third ODI of the ongoing five-match ODI series last week. It helped India take an unassailable lead of 2-0 in the series and Dhoni was happy that he got a chance to play an innings of quality as the top three had been scoring the bulk of runs in recent times. When asked how he is getting better with age, Dhoni replied by saying, “it’s like wine.” However, a point that the former Indian captain missed there is that even a wine that sits past its expiration date doesn’t get better with time and that’s probably the case with him.
Two days later, chasing a target of 190 runs, the Indian cricket team lost against a weakened West Indian side and MS Dhoni registered an unwanted record to his name. Dhoni went on to score the slowest half-century by an Indian player in last 16 years. It took Dhoni 108 balls to reach the landmark and his first boundary of the inning came off the 103rd ball. Previously, this record was in Sourav Ganguly’s name who had scored fifty in 105 balls in 2005 against Sri Lanka.
This was also MS Dhoni’s slowest half-century beating the 88-ball knock he played against Pakistan at Eden Gardens in 2013. Between the 21st and 40th over of this match, the Indian cricket team scored only 54 runs with just one boundary being scored and this happened with MS Dhoni at the crease. The former India skipper’s strike-rate of 47.36 was lowest in the 149 innings in which he has scored 25 or more runs.
Taking matches until the end and winning them from there used to be MS Dhoni’s biggest strength. This quality had earned him the status of captain cool and made him one of the best finishers of all-time. But, Dhoni’s ability to finish matches have gone down recently and it is clearly visible now. In the last match, India needed just 31 runs from the last 5 overs and with Dhoni still in there, it should have been a cakewalk but men in blue went on to lose the match by 11 runs. This isn’t the first time Dhoni has failed to finish a match for the side in the last couple of years. It happened in England and it also happened against Zimbabwe last year.
Coming to the wine, it doesn’t get better by itself. For that, you have to store it in the right barrel. Maybe, we need a more advanced role for Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He can still play a big role in the 2019 ODI World Cup like Sachin Tendulkar did in 2011 but that role isn’t going to be that of a finisher, for sure.