MS Dhoni has once again returned to the limelight for his measured batting in the first T20I against Australia as Twitterati asked the 37-year-old to discuss politics with "retired uncles" instead of playing cricket.
Dhoni came in for criticism from the fans for his innings of 29 from 37 balls on a slow pitch at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam. The former India skipper came into bat in the 10th over of the Indian innings when the third wicket fell at the score of 80; Rishabh Pant had just been dismissed and he joined KL Rahul in the middle. But instead capitalising on a good start, the Indian batting imploded as wickets kept falling in quick succession and the hosts could only manage to score 126-7 in their quota of 20 overs. Dhoni remained not out along with Yuzvendra Chahal in the end.
Dhoni followed his usual mantra of taking the game to the end before looking to launch a counter-attacking barrage of assaults. But, on the night, Dhoni's rebut did not arrive as his return punch failed to cause any damage and all the wicketkeeper-batsman could do was hit a solitary six in the last over. Dhoni did not manage to hit any boundaries either and given India's long tail, he refused to run and give the strike to the non-striking batsmen either. With Krunal Pandya batting at number 7, India had Umesh Yadav at 8 and Chahal at 9. Thus, one could understand Dhoni's approach. But, given the fact that he could not finish the innings with a flurry of big hits as he is wont to, Twitterati jumped on his case and criticised him.
The cricketing universe has been fluctuating like a pendulum between hailing Dhoni and calling him out over the last few months but Aussie all-rounder Glenn Maxwell spoke in support of the CSK captain.
"It (the slow strike rate) was probably fair enough. With the way the wicket was behaving, it was difficult to score for any batter, let alone a guy who is not known for his power-hitting in Chahal," Maxwell said in Dhoni's defence.
"MS is obviously a world-class finisher and even he was finding it hard to hit the middle of the bat. So, I think it was right of him to try and farm the strike. He hit a six in the last over and I think that showed how difficult it was," Maxwell said.
Dhoni will next be seen in action in the second and final T20I between the two sides at Bengaluru on February 27.