Manchester: As Mahendra Singh Dhoni turned out for his 350th One Day International match during the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, the first World Cup winning Indian skipper Kapil Dev hailed Dhoni’s contribution to India’s success.
Speaking to Gulf News, the legendary all-rounder, who is here as one of the commentators for the Channel 2 Radio, said: “Whether he should continue or not, the performance has to make him to continue. I want to tell everyone that don’t compare his performance of 15 years ago to today. Fifteen years back, he was a different player. He still adds value to the side and is playing so well. Without any doubt, if India win the World Cup, there would have been big contribution to the side from him.”
There was much attention on India’s wicketkeeper-batsman, who became only the second Indian after Sachin Tendulkar to play 350 One Day Internationals during the semi-final.
Dhoni, who celebrated his 38th birthday on Sunday, becomes only the 10th cricketer to play in 350 ODIs, though Tendulkar heads the list for most matches played at 463 ODIs. While questions are being raised about his diminishing skills as a finisher and even his wicketkeeping agility, Dhoni continues to hog the limelight and is also the talk of the semi-finals.
This semi-final was his 347th ODI, since the other three were for Asia XI. Dhoni’s stamina and fitness to have played for so long is outstanding given that he is the only cricketer who has played at a stretch as a wicketkeeper. Kumar Sangakkara has played 360 ODIs, but 44 of them were not as wicketkeeper but purely a batsman.
Though speculations are high that Dhoni may retire at the end of India’s last World Cup game, he has always surprised everyone when making personal decisions. He retired from Test cricket when no one was expecting him to.
Cricketers who have played more ODIs than Dhoni after Tendulkar are Mahela Jayawardene (448), Sanath Jayasuriya (445), Kumar Sangakkara (404), Shahid Afridi (398), Inzamam-ul-Haq (378), Ricky Ponting (375), Wasim Akram (356) and Muttiah Muralitharan (350).
A piece of statistics during the World Cup has revealed that Dhoni is no longer a safe wicketkeeper. When he failed to collect a delivery from Hardik Pandya in the match against Sri Lanka and the ball went for four byes, it was revealed that Dhoni has conceded 24 byes, which is the most in this World Cup.
The fact is that no wicketkeeper has conceded even half the runs he has conceded and Australia’s Alex Carey is second on this list, having given away only nine bye runs.