Mahendra Singh Dhoni turned back the clock and showed once again why he is important to India in the fifty-over format on Tuesday.
Dhoni, who has been severely criticised for his lack of form lately, scored 51 in the last game at Sydney but that came from 96 balls and again drew some flak from former players.
Exclusive | Australia, New Zealand tours will decide if Ambati Rayudu can be India's No.4: Sourav Ganguly
But, Tuesday's knock will remind people why form is temporary and class is permanent.
Dhoni's knock in Adelaide was not a swashbuckling one by any stretch of imagination but an innings that shows his importance and capabilities all over again. In a match that needed a cool head, Dhoni came in and finished the game off with a maximum and single in the last over to help India level the series.
Dhoni's 55 off 54 was not any stretch of imagination a quick knock. He took his time after coming in to bat in the 30th over of the Indian innings and played a perfect foil to Virat Kohli, who was well on his way to another masterclass while chasing.
Kohli and Dhoni converted the ones into twos and twos into threes and that's what worked in Dhoni's favour as he is no longer the power-hitter that he once was. Kohli's intentful 104 off 112 balls -- his 24th hundred while chasing and 21st in a successful one, gave Dhoni ample time to get his eye in and take over once Kohli fell in the 44th over of the 299 chase.
But the game was not done yet and Dhoni being the set man in had to take his team over the line and that he did with a very useful contribution from Dinesh Karthik, who on his part remained not out on 25 off 14 balls.
— ICC (@ICC) January 15, 2019
Dhoni played at a strike-rate of 101.85 off but do not be fooled by that, Throughout the innings, his strike-rate was well below the 80s but his calm head was nothing short of gold dust in that situation.
The 37-year-old chipped in with singles and twos and the odd threes and that contributed to 78 per cent of his runs in the innings with the rest 22 coming of sixes -- which were two in number. Dhoni didn't hit a single boundary in his innings but the two sixes came at crucial junctures and helped India clinch a close game and go to the next one with a man high in confidence.
And Dhoni's 'calculated' innings drew some high praise from his captain, who has always backed him through thick and thin.
"There is no doubt that he shouldn't be a part of this team. Tonight was an MS classic. Only he knows what's going through his mind. He calculates the game so well. He backs himself to hit those big hits.
"MS was as composed as ever. We try and help each other (MS and himself). Tonight was special for us.
Dhoni, who had hit a fifty after 14 innings in Sydney now has two in two and suddenly and his form will at least bring some relief going ahead in the year with the World Cup in less than six months time.
With the win, India will now go to Melbourne as team high on confidence and now look to take the ODI series 2-1 before flying off to New Zealand for the limited-overs series, which starts on January 23