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ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: 3 players who may be playing in their last World Cup

Each ICC World Cup gives us the stories of young rookies entering and old tigers leaving the arena. A glimpse at three extraordinary players who might be playing their last Cricket World Cup.

Last updated: 01.06.2019
MS Dhoni and Chris Gayle | Sports Social Blog

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ICC Cricket World Cup, the sport’s greatest ever spectacle has always thrown upon us a bunch of intriguing stories. While few of those have been like a breath of fresh air, demonstrating the gutsy efforts of little known players or rookies, few other stories have mesmerized us with fairy-tale like endings of the legends of the game, who were most probably playing in their last ever World Cup.

Exactly 20 years later, the game’s marquee event has returned to England and once again promises to fascinate us not only with the aura that surrounds the event but also with the batting prowess like never before.

On that note, let’s take a glimpse at three extraordinary players who are most probably going through the last ever World Cup campaign of their respective careers.


#1: MS Dhoni

Ever since Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit a whirlwind 148 against Pakistan way back in 2005 at Vizag, his stature as one of the best wicket-keeper batsman in the world has just grown exponentially.

But, for MS Dhoni, the World Cup has always been special, captaining his side to the ultimate glory in 2011 at home. His unbeaten knock of 91 against Sri Lanka in the final is perhaps the best and the most significant innings he has ever played in his career and has not only become a part of game’s folklore but also is a shining star in Dhoni’s flamboyant legacy.

Following a dismal 2017 and 2018 when the former captain cool had a rough time with the bat, 2019 has once again seen Dhoni perform at the best of his abilities, producing some meaningful contributions with the bat when his team needed the most. His magnificent century against Bangladesh in the warm-up match leading into the World Cup augurs extremely well not only for Dhoni himself but also for the fortunes of team India’s shaky middle-order.

So, as an outsider, what can we expect of Dhoni at this year’s World Cup? Well, following him throughout his career so far, he is no more an extravagant finisher or a relentless attacker of the cricket ball like once he was. Of late, he is more like an innings-builder, an accumulator who gradually shapes his innings.

At this World Cup, even though India’s batting order appears to be strong on paper, the middle order is a bit low on confidence, shaky, wobbly and cause of concern for team India’s think-tank.

In such a scenario, Dhoni becomes team India’s vital cog at No.4 or No.5 to build and control the innings and it is imperative that the senior pro brings all his years of experience to the table to lead India’s fortunes at the world event.

Moreover, his never diminishing and sharp wicket-keeping skills behind the stumps alongside his tactical brilliance on the field assisting Virat Kohli will play a factor of its own, if indeed team India fancies winning their 3rd World Cup title.

It would be fascinating to follow Dhoni’s journey in what we can presume to be his last ever appearance at cricket’s grandest stage.

#2: Chris Gayle

For the mighty West Indian, life is like a big party and the numerous cricketing venues all across the globe are like his party places. In the case of ‘Universe Boss’, one thing is for sure, there is no shortage of drama or entertainment whenever he is around. And no wonder, millions of fans adore and admire him when he travels around revolutionizing T20 cricket throughout the world, participating in various T20 leagues.

Chris Gayle, who announced retirement from ODIs following the conclusion of ongoing World Cup, staged a sensational comeback to Windies set-up when he set the stage on fire against England at home earlier this year, amassing a colossal 424 runs in just 4 innings at the age of 39.

With over 10,000 runs and 25 centuries, the Jamaican has a staggering record in ODI cricket. However, in spite of all the big-hitting reputation, he is popular for, the World Cup has never been a happy hunting ground for the demolition man. This year’s World Cup is his 5th appearance in the showpiece event and he just has two centuries to his name at cricket’s greatest spectacle across the previous four editions.

The big West Indian has been in tremendous form of late and has started the World Cup on a positive note, scoring a half-century in his team’s opening encounter against Pakistan.

In his last World Cup, can he finally transcend his form into something spectacular? Can he entertain us in one of the most dramatic ways in his final hurrah in ODI cricket and in the process help the unpredictable Windies qualify for the semis or beyond?

Well, let’s hope that Chris Gayle leaves a strong impression on this World Cup, probably his last assignment at the international level as well, before he brings down curtains on his illustrious ODI career.

#3: Hashim Amla

For Hashim Amla, the 36-year old veteran from South Africa, one of the true gentleman of the game is finding himself in a bit of turmoil for quite a while now.

Once a role model of consistency, Hashim Amla, South Africa’s Mr. dependable and cricket’s impregnable force with the bat, seems to have lost his way since their tour to India, way back in November-December 2015.

He was a part of South Africa’s World Cup campaign in 2011 and 2015 and has been the stronghold at the top of the order for Proteas.

In the absence of AB De Villiers, who bid goodbye to international cricket last year, South Africa’s batting at the World Cup appears to be precariously placed as we saw from their dismal performance against England in their opening fixture and it is imperative that senior batsman like Amla rises up to the occasion.

In 2011, Amla had Graeme Smith, Jack Kallis and AB De Villiers, while in 2015, he still had De Villiers around him. However, at this year’s World Cup, in spite of the presence of proven performers like Quinton De Kock and the skipper Faf Du Plessis, Amla has a massive responsibility on his shoulders as the team’s most senior batsman.

Can Amla, who had to retire hurt after being hit by Joffrey Archer bouncer in the opening clash of the World Cup, regroup himself to rise above his past disappointments and slump in form to regain his magic touch, which seems to have deserted him for a while now?

Can he return back to the peak of his prowess to deliver at Cricket’s grandest stage and in the process, steer South Africa to their much-eluded first ever World Cup title win?

Will he suffer a similar fate as many of South Africa’s legends of the past, being denied the ultimate glory, the World Cup crown? Or, perhaps in his last World Cup appearance, dare to dream to change his team’s fortunes, carving out a fascinating story of South Africa’s triumph fashioned around his remarkable individual brilliance with the bat.

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