MS Dhoni was once considered the greatest finisher in the game and a lower-order batsman that could clear the boundary at will. That reputation has come under a lot of pressure in the last couple of years, especially after the recent T20 series against Sri Lanka where Dhoni found it difficult to clear the boundary and rotate the strike.
Former players such as VVS Laxman and A Agarkar came out and said that it was now time for the 36 year old Dhoni to retire from T20 cricket and give the opportunity for a youngster to take his place. They wanted Dhoni to continue in ODI cricket because he is still fit and could use the longer format of the game to play himself in before launching into destructive mode.
Laxman feels that the Dhoni of today needs more time at the crease before he can play the big shots. His assessment is hard to argue with as Dhoni’s strike rate in T20 cricket over the last 2 years is not as high as he would like and death bowlers no longer fear MS Dhoni like before. To Dhoni’s credit, captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri have come out in his defense and asked the critics to stop attacking Dhoni and pressurising him to give up T20 cricket.
MS Dhoni who is not a stranger to pressure or criticism has shrugged off calls for him to retire from T20 cricket and surrender his place to a younger player.
In a statement, MS Dhoni said “It is representing the country which is the best motivation for me because we play cricket for only a span of time. You can play for one year to 15 years, some play 20 years, but in the life span, let’s say you live for 70 years, 10 to 15 years is nothing and that’s the only time you can proudly say that I’m representing my country. The biggest motivation is being part of the Indian cricket team.”
However if Dhoni is going to continue to defy the critics and play, he will have to continue to play under pressure and realize that he is going to face criticism every time he fails. Former captain Sourav Ganguly feels that Virat Kohli needs to speak to MS Dhoni separately and encourage him to approach T20 cricket in different manner to be successful. Ganguly did not shed more light on what the ‘different manner’ should be.