Dhoni’s and Malinga’s T20 outings in sunset? | Sunday Observer

Dhoni’s and Malinga’s T20 outings in sunset?

With the conducting of the World Cup T20 in October in Australia still in the land of uncertainty and unlikely to be called ‘play’ because of the prevailing coronavirus, so is the career of India’s champion batsman, wicket keeper and former captain MAHENDRA SINGH DHONI.

DHONI who quit Test and One-Day cricket was eagerly looking forward to call ‘finis’ to his glittering career after showcasing his talent in the T20 World Cup. He was to use the Indian Premier League games to fine tune and recharge his batteries and earn a slot in the T20 Indian squad.

But with the IPL called off due to the virus, unless coach Ravi Shastri and the selectors have a change of heart consider the tremendous contribution DHONI has made to Indian cricket in all formats over the years and slots him in the squad, DHONI will be a non starter.

Sri Lanka’s captain in the T20 format the irrepressible LASITH MALINGA is also in a similar predicament to that of DHONI. MALINGA too whose captaincy, since leading the team to win the T20 World Cup for Sri Lanka beating India in the Bangladesh tournament has been wobbly with his critics baying for his removal.

MALINGA too was looking forward to facing the England team in the T20 series which was called off with the Covid-19 spreading and staking his claims, but with the England team flying back and also playing for Mumbai Indians in the IPL shattered, his future too is in the balance.

Back to DHONI and India has never produced or will ever produce a wicket keeper batsman and later a clever captain of his stature and caliber who lit up every venue that he played in with his sparkling hitting that was lapped up by the spectators the world over.

When he first sported the Indian cap he looked more like a hippie with long hair, but with his career gathering momentum and realizing that he had a glittering future ahead of him, he close cropped and looked a cricketer.

Once in the Indian team, he never let go of the opportunity and playing some breathtaking knocks where he scored most of his runs with fours and sixes being his forte, he changed India’s fortunes in the game and made them a team that was admired and scared of.

His crowning moment was when he led India to their second 50-over World Cup victory after 28 years beating Sri Lanka led by Kumar Sangakkara in a memorable final in 2011. The previous time India won the World Cup was under all rounder Kapil Dev in 1983 at Lord’s upsetting the mighty West Indies.   

DHONI had a phenomenal rise in his glittering career. His bat was like a sword in the hands of a top swordsman. In addition he had the power of a gorilla. When he went for the big hits the ball sailed out of the ground with the bowler and fielders watching in admiration.

In addition to is big hits, he could cut and drive with great timing and was all elegance as the ball screeched to the boundary. He packed a rare stroke in his repertoire that was tagged the ‘helicopter’ shot. As a wicket keeper he was safe and is on record having snapped up some breathtaking catches and quick sure stumpings when batsmen left the crease and missed.

As a captain he was second to none and he led the Indians with aplomb in all formats of the game and many were the victories India tasted under him. But his crowing moment was when he led India to carry away the 2011 World Cup.

To recap in that final Sri Lanka batting first made a formidable 274 with Sri Lankan stylist Mahela Jayawardena reeling off a century to become the second Sri Lanka to do so after Aravinda de Silva scored the first century against Australia in Lahore in the 1996 tournament final.

When India began their chase their quick firing opener Shewag went first ball lbw to MALINGA and when master batsman Sachin Tendulkar went caught behind by Sangakkara off MALINGA and India tottering at 31 for two, India lost another wicket and at 114 for 3 the situation looked hopeless.

It was then that the batting gladiator DHONI walked in. He took guard and the rest where he pummeled the Lankan attack is history.  In making an unbeaten 91 in 76 balls with 8 fours and two sixes he played some amazing strokes. His second six that landed into the stands to give India the Cup will not be forgotten. And the scenes that followed were what memories are made of. Truly remarkable.

In his 90 match Test career he scored 4,876 runs hitting 544 fours and 78 sixes. In the 350 limited over games he made 10,773 runs hitting 826 fours and 229 sixes. In his T20 career that hopefully will not be over he clouted 1,617 runs in 98 games hitting 116 fours and 52 sixes. In the Indian Premier League playing in 190 games he scored 4,432 runs hitting 297 four and 29 sixes.

If MALINGA and DHONI do not get the opportunity to continue their T20 careers it will be a sad end to two of the games greatest cricketers to walk the field like cricketing giants. If they go out it will be like the lights on the pylons going out during day/night games and cricket played in darkness and the game will never be the same again.

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