But were the fans right in singling out Dhoni for his slow approach to the chase? They were not. How can he alone be blamed for the defeat?
Mahendra Singh Dhoni reached another major milestone in One Day Internationals (ODIs). But there was no celebration and it was not the talking point at Lord’s on Saturday as India collapsed to a 86-run defeat to England in the second match of the series.
Dhoni completed 10,000 runs in the 50-over format as he moved from 32 to 33. He is only the second wicketkeeper, after Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara, in the illustrious 10,000-run club and the fourth overall from India. Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid are the other three there.
However, the major talking point from Saturday’s defeat for the 'Men In Blue' was Dhoni’s strange innings when India were chasing 323. It was alleged that there was a lack of intent from the former India skipper, known for his finishing skills in the limited-overs format.
The 37-year-old wicket-keeper-batsman had the ignominy of being booed by the Lord’s crowd for his slow batting. He scratched his way to a 59-ball 37, making the spectators angry. When he was dismissed in the 47th over, fans applauded his fall.
But were they right in singling out Dhoni for his slow approach to the chase? They were not. How can he alone be blamed for the defeat?
India’s run chase was derailed early when Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul were back in the pavilion with just 60 on the board.
When Dhoni walked out to bat after skipper Virat Kohli’s exit, India needed 183 runs from 138 balls. The visitors had six wickets in hand.
In the current era of T20s, this equation should have been easy. But it was not to be.
Soon, Dhoni lost Suresh Raina and India slipped to 154/5 in 31.1 overs. At that stage, the last specialist batsman/all-rounder Hardik Pandya arrived. The required run rate had gone up to nearly nine runs per over.
In the 39th over, Pandya departed for a 22-ball 21. In this situation, Dhoni was left to bat with the tailenders. It was a herculean task even for one of the greatest finishers in white-ball cricket.
For every batsman, such days do come. And it was one of those days when Dhoni tried his best but could not manage to take the side home. It was too much to do for him after the top and middle order did not post enough runs in a big chase.
Kohli too, in the post-match presentation ceremony, defended his former leader.
“The idea was to take the innings deep. We don't want to lose by 160 or 170 runs. You want to take it as deep as you can and he has got the experience, but some days it just doesn't come off. People just jump to conclusions, which we as a team don't. We totally believe in him (Dhoni), and in the abilities in all the other players,” Kohli said.
The skipper asked people not to jump to conclusions over Dhoni’s batting.
“This thing comes up again and again when he is not able to play the way he does. It is very unfortunate that people just jump to conclusions very quickly. When he does well people call him the best finisher ever. And when things don't go well people pounce on him. We all have bad days in cricket. Today was I think a bad day for everyone, not just for him alone. And just as a batting unit we could not click," Kohli added.
This was not the first time that Dhoni was blamed for India’s debacle. And it won’t be the last either.
For now, Dhoni will be hoping to end the England tour on a high when the two teams meet in the ODI series-decider on 17 July at Headingley.
India will stay back in England for five Tests starting on 1 August while Dhoni and some other limited-overs specialists leave for home.
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Last Updated 15, Jul 2018, 6:34 PM