January 19, 2017: India were tottering at 25/3 in the second ODI vs England at Cuttack. A couple of hours later, the hosts had fought back to post a commanding 381/6. By late evening, India had won by 15 runs to take an invincible series lead. Yuvraj Singh was named man-of-the-match for his scintillating 150.August 24, 2017: Chasing a modest 237 vs England in the second ODI at Kandy, India were hurtling towards an embarrassing defeat. The tourists had been reduced to 131/7 before eventually winning the game by three wickets. Young Sri Lankan spinner Akila Dananjaya was named man-of-the-match for his spell of 6/54.September 17, 2017 : In the first ODI of a hyped series against Australia, India had slipped to 11/3 in the sixth over. Virat Kohli, the leading run-scorer in ODIs this year, was out for a duck and Australia’s new-ball bowlers were breathing fire. India recovered to first post 281/7 before bagging the rain-truncated match by 26 runs (DLS). Hardik Pandya was named man-of-the-match for his all-round show. He blasted a 66-ball 83 and picked two wickets including that of Steve Smith.However, there was a common factor in all of three victories. His performances had quietly slipped under the radar as Yuvraj Singh, Dananjaya and Pandya grabbed headlines with the sheer audacity of display. That common factor was MS Dhoni.Steering the team out of trouble and winning games is of course not new for Dhoni. But there came a point when many had started to doubt his abilities. After retiring from Test cricket, Dhoni’s abilities, many thought, were on the wane.advertisementHaving bid adieu to Tests in 2014, he followed it up with a middling 2015, scoring 640 runs from 20 ODIs at 45.71, The next year was worse as DHoni totalled a mere 278 from 13 ODIs at 27.80. Never since his debut in 2004, had he endured a worse year where he had played more than four ODIs.Reuters Photo To make matters worse, India lost successive ODI series against Bangladesh, South Africa and Australia. Dhoni was beginning to lose his finishing abiities and there were calls to look for a replacement. Wriddhiman Saha had successfully slipped into Dhoni’s position in Test cricket – surely, a replacement could be found in ODIs too.And then at the dawn of 2017, Dhoni shocked the world again. He decided to step down as India’s limited-overs captain. That marked the start of a new journey for a newly modelled Dhoni – that brought about a brutal 134 in Cuttack, a coldly calculated unbeaten 45 in Kandy and a smartly paced 79 in Chennai .On all three occasions, India were set for defeat. England had fancied their chances after getting rid of Kohli. Similarly, Sri Lanka and Australia were ecstatic before running into their old nemesis, who had only brought about a few technical changes without tempering any of his ferocious hitting abiities.Dhoni has been unstoppable this year with 627 runs from 19 matches. His average of 89.57 is the highest among batsmen with at least 600 runs so far in 2017. Even better, Dhoni has achieved all this without compromising on his strike-rate which is still a healthy 85.65.Kohli has made no bones about the fact that he needs Dhoni in his limited-overs teams. He has even urged his predecessor to bat higher up the order even though number six seems like a settled position for the legend.Coach Ravi Shastri, in a recent interview with India Today, said Dhoni had some surprises in store with the bat.The team management feels Dhoni is an absolute necessity for the 2019 World Cup. His experience and calm are rare commodities in the frenetic world of modern-day cricket. India are blessed that way. For everytime they are in trouble, all the dressing room needs to do is, dial MSD.