A poor outing last year during India's tour of England was a necessity for former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Despite the lacklustre performance, the downfall only strengthened in time to come and inevitably, MS Dhoni proved everyone wrong for the umpteenth time.
In the three-match ODI series in England, Dhoni lacked the finesse and tenacity which one associates the wicketkeeper-batsman with. His form took a massive beating which saw scrutiny and criticism attack him from all over.
Dhoni's strike rate was so slow that he was even booed at Lord's when India was chasing 323. Dhoni managed to score only 79 runs from 125 balls in two innings against England and was heavily criticised by the pundits as well.
Dhoni is ranked as one of India's best in terms of captains and batsman, but after the tour, many questions were raised on his approach to batting with some even suggesting that he was detrimental to the team's hopes at the upcoming World Cup.
However, knowing Dhoni, the former captain answered his critics and the calm and composed manner as he does but instead gave fitting replies with the bat, scoring runs in bulk thereafter. He has been in exceptional form this year as in 9 ODIs, he has scored 327 runs, hitting four half-centuries, three of them in a row during the tour of Australia.
He continued his form in the recently concluded IPL as well and scored 416 runs in 5 matches he played for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Additionally, his average of 83.20 ended up as the season's best.
With India on the pursuit on closing in on their third World Cup, Dhoni has always been an integral part of the team and this summer, other than his lightning quick reflexes with the gloves behind the stumps, the 37-year old needs to deliver with the bat as India's middle-order is yet rather unstable.
It is imperative for the former captain to step up his game, stick it out in the middle and lead the Men in Blue forward. Captain Cool brings to the side the much-needed calmness which becomes of utmost importance in a cliffhanger of humdinger in the World Cup. If Dhoni can continue to remain as consistent as he has been for Team India and CSK over the last decade, then the Men in Blue would sail smoothly to victory and give a fitting farewell to Dhoni who, in all likelihood, will be playing his last World Cup.
It will be interesting to see how the drama unfolds at the mega tournament which commences from May 30, as whenever the No.7 wicketkeeper-batsman comes from the pavilion to bat, all eyes will, as usual, be on MS Dhoni.
(With IANS Inputs)