MS Dhoni had a woeful 2018 with many questions raised about his ability to finish games and make big scores. However, in the first three games of 2019, he has already silenced the critics in style with the bat and also showed that his ability to finish games had not waned. After his knock of 51 was panned by critics in Sydney, Dhoni turned the clock back with a brilliant, unbeaten 55 which saw India clinch a tense chase in Adelaide while in Melbourne, his 70th fifty and third consecutive half-century knock saw India winning a bilateral ODI series in Australia for the first time.
Following the win, the Indian section of the crowd at the MCG were going berserk. The Indian players were being congratulated by the Australian players and the support staff. When Sanjay Bangar, the batting coach of the Indian cricket team, came to congratulate Dhoni, the former Indian skipper responded hilariously by saying, “Ball le lo nahi to bolega retirement le rahe ho (Take the ball or they will say you are retiring).” The quote by Dhoni has gone viral on social media and it was another dig at his retirement speculations.
During the 2018 ODI series against England, India had lost the series 1-2. Following the loss, match footage emerged of Dhoni taking the match ball from the umpire and social media raised doubts that the former India skipper was contemplating retirement by doing this action. However, Dhoni brushed aside the rumours, stating that he wanted to see how we can work on reverse swing with the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup being played in England.
See #Dhoni when gave ball to the coach and said " Ball lelo nahi to bolega retirement lerahe ho" 😂— Lakshay Rohilla 🧢🇮🇳 (@lakshayrohilla3) January 18, 2019
even even #Dhoni wants to play more. #AUSvIND #INDvAUS #Chahal #Jadhav #WhistlePodu@ChennaiIPL pic.twitter.com/B5dMVQEzhR
We must know what we have to do to get the reverse swing going. The opposition is getting it, so we should also get it at some point or the other. That's why I did that [took the ball from umpire]. After 50 overs, the ball is useless to the ICC, so I requested the umpire for the ball and gave it to our bowling coach and said we need to work on it so that we can get a bit of reverse swing going. That will help the fast bowlers get those yorkers or wickets towards close or after the 40-over mark. That will help us restrict the opposition in the last 10 overs.” Dhoni told the official website of the International Cricket Council.
Dhoni won his first Man of the Series since 2011 when India whitewashed England 5-0. This was the first time since 2014 that Dhoni had scored three consecutive fifties in a bilateral series, having achieved the feat against New Zealand. The Ranchi right-hander also went past 1500 runs against Australia, the second-highest tally of runs against an opposition and during the Melbourne knock, he joined Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma as the others to score 1000 runs in Australia.
India will now play five ODIs and three Twenty20 Internationals against New Zealand, with the first match beginning on January 23 in Napier.