Bengaluru, June 6: India's former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni played the first match of his fourth ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 at Ageas Bowl in Southampton against South Africa on Wednesday (June 5).
The 37-year-old had made his World Cup debut in Port of Spain in 2007 and became a member of an exclusive club of Indians who have gone on to play in four editions of the mega event.
The club has members in legends like Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar (he went on to play in six) and others. Dhoni played a key role against South Africa in Southampton as he scored 34 off 46 at No.5 to add 74 vital runs with centurion Rohit Sharma (122 not out) as the Men in Blue chased down a target of 228.
Earlier, he also effected a clean stumping of Andile Phehlukwayo off the bowling of Yuzvendra Chahal when the latter was looking to lend some solidity to the South African batting.
How did Dhoni do in the first games of his last three World Cups?
Dhoni had a poor debut at the World Cup at Port of Spain in 2007 when he failed to rescue his team against a determined Bangladesh bowling. Coming in at No.7 after India lost Yuvraj Singh with the score of 157 on board, Dhoni lasted just three balls and gave an easy catch to short third man while trying to cut spinner Mohammad Rafique. However, he took the catch of Tamim Iqbal and stumped Shakib Al Hasan and skipper Habibul Bashar though at the end, it was of little help as India lost the game by five wickets.
Such authoritative were the centuries by Virender Sehwag (175) and Virat Kohli (100 not out) that Dhoni was not required to bat in this game. India posted a mammoth 370 for four in 50 overs and then restricted Bangladesh to 283 for nine in their allotted overs after Shakib Al Hasan won the toss and decided to field. Dhoni stumped Bangladesh's No.3 Junaid Siddique off the bowling of Harbhajan Singh as India won the match by 87 runs. The most important part of this match was that Dhoni was the captain of the side by now and took a sweet revenge of the 2007 defeat.
In his third World Cup and second as the skipper of the side, Dhoni had a memorable experience of beating arch-rivals Pakistan. He won the toss and elected to bat and riding Kohli's 107, India posted 300 for seven in 50 overs. Dhoni had come out in the 43rd over after the fall of Kohli and scored a quick 18 with one four and a six. He got out in the second ball of the final over after pushing the score to almost 300. Later, behind the stumps, Dhoni took the catches of Younis Khan and Wahab Riaz off the bowling of Mohammed Shami and Umar Akmal off Ravindra Jadeja as India bowled Pakistan out for 224 to win by 76 runs.