MS Dhoni displayed his class in a tense run-chase as his third consecutive fifty and his partnership of over 100 with Kedar Jadhav helped India beat Australia in the third and final ODI in Melbourne to achieve a bilateral series win Down Under for the first time ever. The former India skipper, who was criticised for playing too slowly in the Sydney ODI, showed his finishing prowess had not waned by helping India over the line in a tense chase in Adelaide while he held his nerve with Jadhav to get India over the line in Melbourne. Following the win, head coach Ravi Shastri, speaking to the Daily Telegraph, said players like Dhoni cannot be replaced.
“You can’t. Such players only come once in 30 or 40 years. That is what I tell Indians. Enjoy while it lasts. When he goes you will see a void that will be very hard to fill. He is a legend. He will go down as one of our great cricketers. I have never seen an individual so sound. I have seen Sachin at times get angry. Not this man,” Shastri said.
Shastri also praised the tactical acumen of Dhoni, saying the entire team worships his skills and that has come from 10 years of leading the side. “He has the best angle. He sees things. He is great with the guys, they all worship him. This entire team has been built by him because he was captain for 10 years. To have that kind of respect in the dressing room and experience is massive,” Dhoni said.
The former India skipper scored three consecutive fifties in a series for the first time since the New Zealand tour of 2014 and he won his first Man of the Series award since the 2011 series against England where India achieved a 5-0. The right-hander from Ranchi also went past 1000 runs in Australia and took his tally of ODI runs against the Aussies to over 1500 runs, the second-most he has against any team. Dhoni, in the post-match presentation, admitted that the wicket was difficult to bat on.
“It was a slow wicket, so it was a bit difficult to hit whenever you wanted to. It was important to take it to the end because some of their bowlers were on the verge of finishing their quota. No point going after the bowlers who were bowling well. Kedar did a great job in playing unorthodox shots and it is important to hit boundaries. It is not about where you want to bat; I am happy to bat at any number and after playing for 14 years I can’t say that I don’t want to bat at number six and want to bat at four,” Dhoni said.
Having conquered Australia, India will be determined to continue the momentum in the five-match ODI series against New Zealand beginning on January 23 with the first ODI in Napier.