Arriving to rescue India who were struggling at 140/4 in 30 overs, Dhoni stuck around till the 50th over and with the assistance of skipper Kohli and Hardik Pandya, the veteran pushed the Men in Blue's score to 268/7.
However, the 37-year-old cricketer found it hard to rotate the strike. The dot balls kept mounting and the runs were hard to come by - something the viewers had witnessed in the previous clash against Afghanistan, where Dhoni scored 28 off 52 before Rashid Khan got the better of him. It was Jasprit Bumrah's death bowling and Mohammed Shami's late hat-trick heroics that saved the day for India, beating the spirited Afghans only by 11 runs.
Come the Manchester clash and history almost repeated itself when Dhoni, batting at 8, danced down the track to a Fabian Allen delivery, only to get beaten. Here, the batter saw a ray of hope (ahem) when West Indian wicket-keeper Shai Hope made a mess of a stumping chance as he failed to collect the ball cleanly.
Dhoni capitalised on the missed opportunity and stayed rooted to the crease until the very end of Indian innings. The former captain did manage to redeem himself by smashing 6, 4 and a last-ball 6 to Thomas to take India to a decent score.
Backing Mahi's efforts with the bat, Kohli while receiving his Man of the Match award said, “Dhoni knows exactly what he wants to do in the middle. When he has an off day here and there, everyone starts talking. We always back him. He has won us so many games.”
Calling him the legend of the game, Kohli further added by saying, “We have quite a few players who play instinctive cricket and follow their game plans. He has such a keen understanding of the game. Always sends us feedback, that you know 260 is a good score. He’s a legend of the game. We all know that. Just hope he can continue.”
The critics on social media, however, weren't mightily impressed by Dhoni's knock and they expressed their mixed feelings on the microblogging site Twitter. Several others dismissed the criticism that came Dhoni's way and batted for the veteran.
MSD’s half century a mixed bag. Massive stroke of luck saved him. But finished the innings superbly to make it an invaluable inning. Have India got enough is the question. Spinners hold the key IMO— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) June 27, 2019
Keyboard warriors can cry. They can try finding reasons to Blame MS, But the crowd in going Dhoni.. Dhoni in Stadium. #IndvsWI .. 😀— Prabhu (@Cricprabhu) June 27, 2019
Dhoni's 56* looks decent on paper, but doesn't reflect the immense pressure he put on those who batted with him at the other end. Virat, one might say, got out because he felt he needed to score, all by himself, the runs of two batsmen. #INDvsWI— Tunku Varadarajan (@tunkuv) June 27, 2019
Rashid Khan had gone for 25 in 4 overs , gave away only 13 in his next 6 and today Fabian Allen had given 34 in 5 overs, only 18 in next 5. Can't be so defensive against the spinners.— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) June 27, 2019
Yes, India has an excruciatingly long tail and India wouldn't have reached 250 if not for Dhoni's innings. But he needs to rotate strike and look to push the gaps in the middle overs and that can be done without taking any risk. Just that, MS. #CWC19— Manya (@CSKian716) June 27, 2019
MS Dhoni today:— Umang Pabari (@UPStatsman) June 27, 2019
First 45 balls : 26 runs (SR - 57.78)
Next 16 balls : 30 runs (SR - 187.50)#WIvIND
Well Played #Dhoni. Let his bat do the talking as always. Don't tell me it was slow. Coming in at 140/4 at 28.5 and held one end till the 50th Over and better Strike rate than most of #TeamIndia Batsman.— Prabhu (@Cricprabhu) June 27, 2019
Now STFU haters and Cheer for India. pic.twitter.com/LnEuGyhV0u
Only if Dhoni had to reach his 50 in 10 balls less, India would've had another couple of overs to ago at the windies ..and maybe reach 290+ https://t.co/6i8T4WhOiU— Arun Rao 🇮🇳 (@ArunRaofinswim) June 27, 2019
Dhoni, once again, hogged the limelight later during West Indies innings when he took a stunning one-handed catch to send dangerous Carlos Brathwaite marching back to the pavilion.
Brathwaite followed a wider of the crease ball from Bumrah and ended up nicking it on the way through.
Meanwhile, the half-centuries from skipper Virat Kohli and Dhoni and a fast-paced hand by Pandya backed up by lethal spell of bowling by Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah saw India trashing the Indies by 125 runs. The defeat also ended all chances for West Indies to advance to the semis.