Former Pakistan batsman Javed Miandad believes two “problem areas” are holding the great MS Dhoni back as a batsman in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020. Miandad thinks the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper has had his “timing” and “reflexes” slowing down with age.
The ongoing IPL in UAE is Dhoni’s first competitive assignment since the last summer’s World Cup in England. The now-retired former India captain has made just 136 runs in nine innings of the tournament at an average of 27.20 and strike-rate of 132.03.
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The run endured by the 39-year-old has coincided with CSK’s disappointing campaign so far, the three-time champions winning just three of their nine games.
“Cricket is about fitness. Especially match fitness. Your physical ability is inversely proportional to your age. As you grow older, your physically ability goes down and you must work harder on your fitness to get going at the highest level,” Miandad told Indian Express.
“I have seen (MS) Dhoni’s batting in this IPL. To me, the problem areas are his timing and reflexes. If a player is not totally match fit, his timing and reflexes get slower. Dhoni needs to assess himself. Self-assessment is what you do constantly as long as you are playing the game.”
“Dhoni has come to this IPL after a long lay-off. He didn’t have any game time coming into this IPL. And here is where the problem lies. It’s not easy to become match fit and get into the groove, coming from such a long lay-off.”
“For a player of Dhoni’s age, it becomes even more difficult. Dhoni needs to make himself match-fit enough. Physically Dhoni is still very fit. Nobody is unfit, when he is playing at this level. I am talking about his match fitness,” he added.
Having crossed that bridge himself as a Pakistan batting legend, Miandad has all the sympathy for Dhoni.
“When I played the 1996 World Cup, I knew couldn’t play like a youngster,” he said. “So I had to adjust my batting accordingly. Hitting boundaries and sixes is about timing the ball well and your ability to pick the gaps. At the 1996 World Cup, I concentrated more on placements to score runs.”
“I could have continued as an international cricketer even after the 1996 World Cup. But I decided that it was the right time to call it quits. Also, after playing the game for such a long time, boredom had set in – the monotony of going through the daily routine like getting up early, going for the jogging etc.”
“Your physical ability declines with your age. What our parents could do when they were young, they can’t do that when they are old. Their body doesn’t permit. Same with cricket.”
Miandad also offered a word of healthy advise for Dhoni, among the most intelligent, self-aware cricketers in the world.
“My suggestion to Dhoni will be to increase his exercise drills and batting time at the nets. If he is doing 20 sit-ups (for example), he can increase it to 30. If he doing five sprints, he can increase it to eight. If he is spending an hour at the nets for batting practice, he can increase it to two hours.”
“It’s not necessary that you have to do it at a stretch. You can do it in parts. You can do it in three sessions – morning, afternoon and evening. Dhoni knows this and maybe, he is already doing that.”
“Dhoni has achieved everything in cricket. He doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. It needs to be seen if the hunger still burns at this stage of his career,” he concluded.