Former India footballer Baichung Bhutia backs MS Dhoni, calls him ‘brilliant’

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni. (Photo Source: SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Opinions are still polarised over India wicketkeeper-batsman MS Dhoni’s approach with the bat in the ongoing Cricket World Cup. Days short of turning 38, Dhoni has come under strong criticism for his slow batting in slog overs that has cost the Men in Blue runs at the end. While it started with his 52-ball 28 against Afghanistan, he faced a backlash particularly in the game against England for not hitting the ball enough even towards the end of the match.

Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav, the two unbeaten batsmen, could score only 39 runs in the final 31 balls of the match even as India were chasing 338. While Jadhav was dropped for the next game against Bangladesh, Dhoni was found to be slow again by his standards, scoring 35 off 33 balls as India had to settle for 314 for 9 in 50 overs. Critics even stated that his end was not near but right here.

However, there are also people who backed Dhoni despite his batting and among them is former India football captain Baichung Bhutia. On Thursday, the 42-year-old footballer-turned-politician threw his weight behind the Ranchi cricketer and called him “brilliant”. He even stated that people were busy blasting him since they were in the hunt for a scapegoat.

“I think he has been brilliant. People have been giving stick to him right now as they are just trying to find a scapegoat out of somebody. But if you look at this World Cup, I think he has done pretty well,” Deccan Chronicle cited reports quoting Baichung, who played 82 matches for India between 1995 and 2011.

Baichung was also critical of the current World Cup saying it lacked a global appeal and even termed it as “South Asia Cup”. However, the fact is that this is the second World Cup in a row that only one South Asian team has featured in the semi-finals and that is India. Pakistan still have a chance of making the last four replacing New Zealand but that is mostly theoretical. Five South Asian teams though took part in the World Cup this year, like in 2015.

For Baichung, World Cup 19 lacks global appeal

“I’m finding this World Cup completely ‘South Asia Cup’… It’s like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India only. Another 10 years, you will only see Asian teams with Bhutan and Nepal also qualifying,” Baichung, who was at the Football Players’ Association of India’s building in Kolkata, stated.

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He even mocked the standard of the World Cup saying India would have still made the semi-finals had they sent a second or third-rung team. He stated Virat Kohli’s team will easily win the trophy.