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For Dhoni, age has different connotations

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Dhoni
Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Wikimedia Commons

By Veturi Srivatsa

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, from time to time, sends across messages to national selectors, his own teammates and to fans through a prying media.

Ever since he quit Test cricket, the one question he is frequently confronted is when will he be quitting the other two formats. After the World Cup, he was asked again about his retirement plans. His answer was a crisp one liner:

“I am 33, I’m still running and I am still fit, next year (at the World T20) will be the right time to decide if I should play World Cup 2019.”

For good measure, like all sportspersons, he says he plays for the enjoyment of the game and the day he decides to go, “I will pack my bags and happily go away”.

After Mustafizur Rahman damaged Dhoni’s and India team’s reputation with back-to-back fifers, the question of his retirement cropped up again and this time he turned melodramatic, stating that by removing him the team was expected to do well and if he was the reason for the down slide of Indian cricket he would step down.

“I was never really in line to become a captain. It was a job or responsibility for me. I have taken that responsibility. If they want to take it away, I am happy to give it away.”

Then came the ODI series in Australia and India lost 1-4 despite scoring 300-plus scores in four of the five matches and 295 in the other, but the T20 sweep gave him a new life and the team suddenly looked world-beaters. Their potential to win the T20 World Cup can be seen from the way Dhoni moulded a team with some outstanding fielders.

So, the upcoming World T20 is more important to him than, perhaps, the team. If India win, he might say he would like to take one match at a time, one series after another for the next three years!

Dhoni is not one to miss out on a trick. He quickly decided to quit Test cricket midway through a series in Australia, as he had hinted a year ago about giving up one of the three punishing formats. After seeing Virat Kohli’s imaginative and aggressive captaincy in Tests down under, people did not see beyond the World Cup.

The World Cup revived Dhoni’s fortunes. His team remained unbeaten till they lost to Australia in the semi-finals. They bowled out all their seven opponents till their exit game to set a record.

There was another hiccup when India lost the ODI series in Bangladesh for the first time last year and soon after South Africa got the better of Dhoni’s side here at home. There was another round of Dhoni bashing. The selectors, however, backed him and made sure there were no other media plants about him being replaced by announcing that he would remain captain till the T20 World Cup.

He has a knack of speaking his mind out and his messages are taken seriously, too, by one and all. He is accused of getting rid of seniors, barring Sachin Tendulkar, from the team — first as One-Day captain and then from the Test squad. Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman felt aggrieved at the way the message was sent across.

The much-maligned Greg Chappell noticed a spark in Dhoni and marked him down as a future captain one year before he actually took over as captain of the shorter formats and he went on to win the inaugural T20.

Five months after winning the T20 championship in South Africa, Dhoni’s next move was to weed out seniors from the ODI side, though a couple of them returned to the side briefly before bowing out.

After winning his first major title he said he would prefer daring players willing to stand in front of a moving truck. After winning the Commonwealth Bank ODI series, his tone was a little more assertive. He said he was pretty clear about the players he wanted in the squad, a statement even Ganguly did not make publicly. He was roundly criticised as selectoral deliberations were leaked, making him out a villain.

He told the youngsters he had fought for then that they must perform to vindicate his belief in them. After winning the series, he rubbed it in, asking the media why the team selection was no longer an issue, wondering what would have happened if they had not won!

If Dhoni thought Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly would be liabilities in the Twenty20 field, he now finds age is only a number when it came to Ashish Nehra, 36, Harbhajan Singh, 35, and Yuvraj Singh, who at 34 is as old as Dhoni himself, as key figures in his scheme of things for the World T20 in India next month.

For pundits, at one point of time Dhoni was a cool, thinking captain and after defeats in a couple of series overseas he was a mere mannequin in an unmarketable garment superstore.

Dhoni is not the first captain to be sacked by media or former players and will not be the last. The board and the selectors backed captains for strange reasons, but now on the selection committee will be the sole authority as the president may not have the power to overrule it. (IANS)

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5 Exciting Players Who Might Win the Purple Cap in IPL 2020

Know about these top 5 IPL cricket players who have chances of winning the purple cap

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IPL purple cap
With the popularity of the Indian Premier League, awards like the Orange and Purple Cap have also become some of the most prestigious awards in Cricket. Wikimedia Commons

With the surge in popularity of the Indian Premier League, awards like the Orange and Purple Cap have also become some of the most prestigious awards in Cricket. The Purple Cap is awarded to the leading wicket-taker bowler of the season. So far, some of the most famous names in the Cricket World have won this cap – Lasith Malinga, Morne Morkel, Dwayne Bravo (2) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2) and many more. Who will join the list of such elite players this season and finish IPL 13 as the highest wicket-taker? Let us find out five such players who can win Purple Cap in IPL 2020:

PS: Household names like Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar are not part of the list due to fitness concerns.

Rashid Khan

Rashid Khan has become synonymous with success in the shortest format of the game. The Afghan bowler is currently ranked first in ICC’s T20 bowlers’ rankings and has excelled in every league he has played. In the recently concluded BBL season, Rashid picked up 19 wickets playing for Adelaide Strikers. 

And the leggie is more than likely to continue his great run of form with SRH in 2020. Last season Rashid picked up 17 wickets in IPL and he is a leading candidate to do even better this season and win the Purple Cap. Rashid is used to Indian pitches by now and Kane Williamson knows just how to use his lethal weapon in crucial stages of the game. 

IPL purple cap
The Purple Cap is awarded to the leading wicket-taker bowler of the season. Pixabay

Jasprit Bumrah

When it comes to having a good day for Mumbai Indians, a lot depends on their premium strike bowler – Jasprit Bumrah. The pacer is one of the best death bowlers in the world at the moment and when he gets his toe-crushing Yorkers right, there is not a lot a batsman can do about it. 

Bumrah was Mumbai’s most successful bowler last season with 19 wickets as he helped the team to the title. The 26-year old’s ability to pick up wickets in both powerplay and death overs has been crucial for 4-times IPL Champions. But IPL 2020 will be a huge challenge for the pacer as he has failed to return to his best in the recently concluded Australia and New Zealand series. Although, with Rohit’s captainship and Malinga’s support, it shouldn’t take Boom Boom Bumrah a lot of time to get back in the groove. 

Kagiso Rabada

Just like Bumrah, Kagiso Rabada has made a name for himself with success for his national side. The South African has every weapon in his arsenal which a pace bowler might need. Last season, Rabada led Delhi Capitals’ bowling attack and finished with 25 wickets – just one behind Purple Cap winner Imrah Tahir. So, the youngster will be itching to do one better this season and get his hands on the prize. 

Rabada has picked up 31 wickets in just 18 IPL matches he has played in his career – an impressive statistic to say the least. And although his economy rate is 8+, the South African averages just 17.94. With exceptional stats to back him, Rabada will be eager to lead Delhi’s bowling attack once again. 

IPL purple cap
Last year’s Purple Cap winner Imran Tahir has retired from international cricket after South Africa’s horrible performance at the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Wikimedia Commons

Imran Tahir

Last year’s Purple Cap winner Imran Tahir has retired from international cricket after South Africa’s horrible performance at the 2019 Cricket World Cup. But when it comes to bowling in IPL, Tahir, just like Rashid Khan, enjoys bowling on Indian pitches and has been very successful through the years. 

Tahir has picked up 79 wickets in just 55 IPL games and at the age of 40, has continued to age like a fine wine. The leggie is still one of the most dangerous bowlers at MS Dhoni’s disposal at CSK. And in their Den at the Chidambaram Stadium, Tahir can create havoc and go for a lap of honour after every wicket.  

Pat Cummins

Not a lot of 14-15 crore buys have worked for IPL teams in the past. But Pat Cummins bought for ₹15.5 crores by KKR in the recent auction, is not like most others. The Aussie is arguably the best bowler in the world right now and has been in tremendous form in the last 12 months. 

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Cummins will be leading KKR’s bowling attack as KKR hardly boasts another big name in the bowling department. The 26-year old has picked up 17 wickets in 16 IPL games so far but a lot has changed since then. Cummins has become the most complete bowler since his last IPL game a few years ago. The right-arm fast bowler will face a challenge of bowling on Indian pitches though, where he will have to prove his worth.