Sachin Tendulkar recently expressed his disappointment over the lack of intent in MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav's partnership against Afghanistan in the ongoing world cup. Many seconded the master's opinion. The partnership was slow. Dhoni scored 28 off 52. As a result, India settled on an under-par score. However, MSDians trolled Tendulkar for criticizing Dhoni and the God of cricket had to face the wrath on social media.
Dhoni also became the centre of discussion during India's match against West Indies. India scored 268/7; Dhoni managed an unbeaten 56 off 62. The innings divided social media. The supporters called it responsible but the detractors called it sluggish. The online war of words was bitter.
England beat India. Again, Dhoni's lack of aggression in the final overs surprised everyone. India needed over 70 to win off 5 overs, but the champion never went into explosion mode. Fans had to be upset.
Things were different when Dhoni walked in to bat in the semi-final against New Zealand. The match seemed lost. Then, Ravindra Jadeja and him 'almost' stole the match. Almost. It isn't the word we associate with Dhoni. He never 'almost' won matches; he won them in style.
The magic now seems to have eluded the legend. Yes, it is wrong to blame Dhoni for semi-final loss. He ably supported Jadeja when everyone else had fallen. His innings, not his best, was priceless.
Things have changed for Indian fans. We are the best bowling outfit struggling with the bat. It isn't a phenomenon that Indian cricket is associated with.
Things have changed for Dhoni too. Thala isn't the conjurer he was once, who'd control matches with sheer brilliance (or madness). He's now a veteran, using his experience to engineer innings and overcome odds. He sometimes succeeds, and sometimes 'almost' does.
We've seen that happen to champions before. We've seen it happen to Ricky Ponting. We've seen it happen to Tendulkar.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has a legacy that'll outlast his mortal existence. Every Indian cricket fan will share the gloom when he retires. He has no haters. People labelled as "Dhoni haters" may not love him as much as his fans do, but they respect him all the same.
When the sun has set upon his legendary career, we'll not be talking of India vs New Zealand in the World Cup. We'll talk of his methodical madness, his 2011 WC final six, and the joy he has given us throughout his career.