There were lot of questions raised on MS Dhoni after a poor 2018 and a slow fifty which resulted in India losing the Sydney ODI against Australia. Critics said his finishing prowess was on the wane. However, the former India captain answered in the best possible way and silenced his critics in his typical cool swagger. He blasted a fifty in Adelaide to help India level the series in a tense chase and his unbeaten 68* helped India win the Melbourne ODI and clinch the series for the first time Down Under. Critics lampooned him by saying he batted slowly. In Bay Oval, he silenced them again.
Coming to bat after Rohit Sharma (87) and Shikhar Dhawan (66) had laid a solid platform, Dhoni shared a vital partnership with Ambati Rayudu but opened up in the death overs by sharing a 53-run stand for the fourth wicket with Kedar Jadhav. He found the boundary on a regular basis and the vintage aggression of Dhoni was on display. After Rayudu fell for 47, Dhoni raised the tempo and got going with a boundary off Lockie Ferguson to deep square leg. The former India captain targeted Trent Boult for another boundary and he survived a drop on 29 when he cut Ferguson to deep point only for Colin de Grandhomme to spill the chance.
In the 49th over bowled by Boult, Dhoni was at his best as he whipped a boundary to long leg and clobbered the left-arm pacer over deep midwicket for his first six. Jadhav gave him good support by mauling two fours and a six off Ferguson. Dhoni got closer to his fourth consecutive fifty by whacking a lofted drive to deep extra cover but only managed two runs when he mishit a full ball to widish long on for a couple. Dhoni’s last four innings of 51,55*,68* and 48* have reinforced the belief that he far from finished as a finisher. The fact that he scored at a strike-rate of over 130 has given critics basically no ammunition to fire with.
The Ranchi star’s performance in Bay Oval continued his consistent run in New Zealand. In the last seven ODIs stretching back to 2009, Dhoni has had scores of 40, 56, 50, 79*, 47, 85 and now 48*. In the 2014 series, he hit three consecutive fifties but India still lost the series 4-0. This knock has helped India reach a good score of 324/4 at Bay Oval and it gives New Zealand an uphill task.