Cricket Column: Dhoni: Down and beginning to get dumped

Sports Tuesday 30/August/2016 18:22 PM
By: Times News Service
Cricket Column: Dhoni: Down and beginning to get dumped

When the 15-minute thunderstorm left puddles on sections of the outfield at Central Broward Regional Park at Lauderhill leading to the cancellation of the second T20 match on Sunday, the Indian crowd gathered at the stadium had a legitimate reason to feel bad, because it was the second time they had got a chance to see the Indian cricket team play in the U.S., but the picture of MS Dhoni evoking the galloping image of Shoaib Akhtar to juice up his disappointment about losing a chance to level the series looked ludicrous.
Even Carlos Brathwaite would have agreed if someone had told him that the West Indies had been staring defeat in the face.
The manner in which the Indian batsmen approached the imposing target of 246 and almost pulled off an incredible victory in the first game was impressive, and the way the Indian bowlers tackled the big-hitting West Indians in the second was convincing, but it was Dhoni’s moment of failure that seemed to have got stuck in his mind finding uninspiring expression.
The puddles at the pavilion end run-up were so far away that they could be dangerous only for a bowler with a long run-up, but Dhoni was eager to remind us that Brathwaite himself, or anyone under his command, was no Shaoib Akhtar.
That’s absolutely right, but the point Brathwaite sought to stress was not just that, but about the possibility of a player—bowler or fielder—chasing the ball and getting injured in the process. It could be the end of the road for young ones like Brathwaite.
The difference lies in the way Dhoni and Brathwaite looked at the issue: one who is at the end of his career and the other who is at the starting point. When we take a glimpse of the puddles from this angle, what the West Indian said made more sense than what the Indian skipper tried to articulate.
If his puddle view was muddled, Dhoni’s take on his last ball failure was far from what he believed was happening. Dhoni said his thinking was right, but the execution wasn’t, but when we got to hear Dwayne Bravo about his mood and mindset about the last ball, we couldn’t help thinking that Dhoni was getting his thought and execution wrong.
Post match, Brathwaite said Bravo had told him that he was going to bowl the slow ball, so the fielders were in place to stop Dhoni from pushing the ball to the off-side and getting two quick runs. Bravo was a touch apprehensive of bowling the slower one, but when he saw “MS walking across and so bowled it and it worked”.
That simply, and embarrassingly, means Bravo outthought Dhoni and the Indian skipper was a sitting duck for the West Indian to execute his plan.
Needing only to score just eight runs, with six wickets in hand, in the last over in a massive run chase is not something that happens often. How Dhoni failed to do that, despite getting dropped off the first ball, and despite being handed the opportunity to face two more balls, and finally one last delivery to score just one run for a tie and two for a win, raises bitter, painful questions.
One of the top brands Dhoni has been endorsing for the last 11 years seems to have got the answer right. Pepsico says the brand is looking for new heroes. So are Indian cricket fans.

The writer is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman