IPL-2021: The Last Of The MSD?

The MSD of Indian and world cricket has been a phenomenon in terms of aggression yet simple approach, skillful captaincy in all three formats of the game, unorthodox right-hand batsman with raw yet powerful hitting, one of the best examples in wicket-keeping in world cricket, one of the fastest runners between the wickets and always smiling and composed in the field. MSD simplified means the one and the only-Mahendra Singh Dhoni. On October 15, 2021 in the IPL-2021(Indian Premiere League-season 2021) Final in Dubai which was MSD’s 300th match Dhoni led his franchise CSK (Chennai Super Kings), since 2008, to its 4th Champion title defeating KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders) convincingly by 27 runs. The earlier title wins under Dhoni’s captaincy were in 2010, 2011 and 2018.

There have been rumors floating around in the UAE where can i watch ipl online free (United Arab Emirates) about the 40-year-old star cricketer’s retirement after IPL-2021 which seems realistic now that he has played the 300th match and also winning the title, creating a moment of glory in leaving. However, the unpredictable, as far as retirement is concerned, cricketer has denied all rumors and made it clear that if not as the captain of CSK he’d continue to be available as a player. After the final encounter of the IPL-2021 MS Dhoni also said that with two new teams coming for the auctions for IPL-2022 the best of interests for CSK would naturally be kept in mind and the Indian cricket board BCCI would be the final authority to decide on his position or place in the team. If he retires indeed then we have seen the last of the MSD here in Dubai, and unfortunately we missed seeing him bat as it was not necessary for him and there was also the rare drop of a catch behind by someone who is never known for such lapses. But fortunately, we had again seen him in the role of a ‘finisher’ in the Qualifier-1 where he hit the required 13 runs in the last over to take CSK straight into the Final, defeating DC (Delhi Capitals), the top team in the points table.

As for the IPL-2021 Final Dhoni’s CSK almost sealed the encounter when its top four batsmen took the winds out of KKR-the batting explosion led by opener Faf du Plessis with 86 runs off just 59 balls and significant contributions by opener Rituraj Gaikwad, Robin Uthappa and Moeen Ali-posted a mammoth total of 192 runs on the board. KKR, the team that performed brilliantly in the UAE leg of the tournament, basically consists of 5 or 6 contributing players-the two consistent openers of Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer, the three spinners of Narine, Chakravarthy and Shakib (a late addition in the absence of the unpredictable Andre Russel), and pacer Mavi, at times joined by batsman Rana. All others, unfortunately, were more of liabilities than assets including most prominently the KKR captain Eoin Morgan and wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik-their glaring inability to lead the team when required. In the Final too, despite an opening partnership of 91 runs in good time, the following batsmen failed miserably including Narine on whom the team depends as a batsman too. Also, the point to be mentioned here is that KKR played most of their matches in the relatively sluggish pitches of Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, and won mostly low scoring matches, their trio of spinners and Mavi restricting the oppositions to less than 150 most often. The high-scoring match on an easy pitch the CSK total score was literally beyond KKR standards.

Coming back to the MSD phenomenon, we still remember him as the long-haired young boy from a small town Ranch in Bihar, running enthusiastically around the field-hitting the ball very hard, keeping the wickets and even bowling on rare occasions. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was selected for Team India in 2004 for the shorter format (ODI) and made his Test debut the next year. In 2007 he took over captaincy from Rahul Dravid in the ODI format and became the Test captain too in 2008 taking over from Anil Kumble. The disastrous result in the ICC Cricket World Cup-2007 when India was eliminated at the league stage was a huge setback for Dhoni; but in the same year in the inaugural ICC Cricket World Cup T20, named as its captain too, Dhoni led the team to his first ICC World Cup defeating Pakistan in the Final. MSD played 90 Tests amassing nearly 5000 runs with a healthy average of 38, 6 centuries, a double century (the highest of his career at 224) and 33 fifties. In 2013 under his captaincy India became the first team in 40 years to have whitewashed Australia 4-0 in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy played in India. During his tenure India occupied the top spot in the ICC Test rankings for the first time. He brought aggression into the team, paradigm shifting the team’s usual ‘snatching defeat from the jaws of victory’ to ‘snatching victory from the jaws of defeat’.