India has produced many successful batsmen and captains but Mahindra Singh Dhoni is unique among them. The ongoing series in Sri Lanka is very important for Dhoni as after veteran Yuvraj Singh, he is on the selectors’ watch list.
In the ICC Champions Trophy in June this year when Pakistan beat arch-rivals India in the final, criticism from all over India started. Critics and fans wanted some senior players like Yuvraj and Dhoni to leave.
Dhoni scored just 67 runs in two innings while Yuvraj scored 105 runs during the tournament in four innings.
When selector MSK Prasad with his colleagues announced the Indian ODI team for Sri Lanka tour, they dropped Yuvraj and said that Dhoni would remain in the team if he delivered. Otherwise, they would have to see other options.
Dhoni is no longer the finisher that he was. He hasn’t finished matches with the authority and the calmness which were his trademarks.
Former Indian captain Rahul Dravid has also urged the selectors and the team management to take a call on the future of the team as the team is to be built for the 2019 World Cup. He has laid specific focus on Yuvraj and Dhoni.
But on the other hand, former dashing opener Virender Sehwag insisted that no other player has the kind of experience that MS Dhoni has in the middle and lower order which would be helpful India in World Cup 2019.
According to Sehwag, BCCI management should not worry about whether Dhoni is scoring runs or not. If he remains fit he should be part of the 2019 World Cup squad as the experience that he has in the middle and the lower middle order is unmatchable.
Dhoni proved Sehwag right in the second and the third one-day international when India were in deep trouble. In the second ODI at Pallekele, at one stage India were 131-7 while chasing 232, but Dhoni (45 not out) along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (53 not out) took the team to the target.
In the third one-day international, Indian top and middle order once more failed and again it was Dhoni (67 not out) who with opener Rohit Sharma (124 not out) took India home and the visitors took an unassailable (3-0) lead in the five-match ODI series.
In January this year, Dhoni had stepped down as the captain of the one-day and Twenty20 sides.
Dhoni is the most successful Indian captain as under his leadership India won the first World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007, and a triangular series in Australia for the first time in 2007-08.
He won the Compaq Cup in 2009, Asia Cup in Dambulla in 2010, the 50-overs World Cup in India in 2011 and Champions Trophy in 2013.
Apart from these triumphs for his country, he also won IPL and Champions League for Chennai Super Kings.
India also remained the No 1 team in Test cricket between December 2009 and August 2011 under his captaincy.
Dhoni is regarded as ‘Captain Cool’ as he never loses hope and does not surrender till the last moment. He has showed his maturity and self-confidence in high-pressure situations.
Dhoni was under criticism when India were routed 4-0 in England in 2011, and he was also the captain for the tour of Australia when India were whitewashed in a four-match series in 2011-12.
Criticism became harsher when India were beaten 2-1 by England in 2015, their first series loss to the Englishmen on home soil since 1984-85.
Defeat against arch-rivals Pakistan in the home ODI series created more problems for the skipper and some people started weighing the option of making young Virat Kohli the leader.