World Cup 2019: MS Dhoni, Chris Gayle and the other legends set to make one final splash

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One final World Cup campaign for MS Dhoni.

Just days remain for the start of the 2019 ICC World Cup in England with the biggest stars from 10 international teams are set to feature over the course of the next six weeks.

The 2019 edition will see several modern-day greats turn out for their final World Cup hurrah as they enter the twilight of their careers.

Here, we take a look at five legends of the game who could be set to retire from ODIs at the end of the 2019 World Cup.

Dale Steyn – South Africa

Age: 35

Injuries have taken their toll on South Africa’s all-time great over the past few years but Dale Steyn arrives at his final World Cup campaign like a man determined to end his country’s title drought.

It has been a storied 15-year long international career for the Proteas pacer who is now their leading Test wicket-taker ahead of the great Shaun Pollock. With the 2019 World Cup set to be Steyn’s limited-overs swansong, he will be itching to capture the trophy that has eluded his side since its inception in 1975.

Current form: A fractured shoulder and subsequent injuries kept Steyn out for much of the past three years with the right-armer making just 13 ODI appearances since the turn of 2016. He did have a meaningful impact in the ODI series win over Zimbabwe last year but is currently coming off the back of another injury he picked up in the recently concluded IPL.

World Cup record: Steyn has been a consistent performer for South Africa at the biggest stage with 23 dismissals in his 14 World Cup appearances. He averages just over 23 with the ball while his economy-rate has been an excellent one at only 4.68.

Steyn will want to make amends for South Africa's 2015 heartbreak.

Steyn will want to make amends for South Africa’s 2015 heartbreak.

Lasith Malinga – Sri Lanka

Age: 35

The veteran pacer has ambitions to play in the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia but the upcoming tournament will be his final ODI appearance for Sri Lanka in all likelihood. Having forged a formidable reputation as a limited-overs specialist due to the potency of his pin-point yorkers and deceptive slower deliveries, Malinga will carry the hopes of a Sri Lankan side low on confidence during the World Cup.

Current form: After struggling with fitness issues and a dodgy knee, Malinga has established himself as Sri Lanka’s frontline pacer once again through a string of consistent displays over the past year. The veteran has picked 11 ODI wickets in eight appearances in 2019 and recently played a crucial role in Mumbai Indians’ march to their record fourth IPL title.

World Cup record: Malinga’s record in the World Cup is an excellent one with the pacer claiming 43 wickets so far in his 22 appearances. He is the only bowler in history to register two hat-tricks in the World Cup with the first coming against South Africa in 2007 while the second followed four years later against Kenya.

Malinga's toe-crushing yorkers are back in business.

Malinga’s toe-crushing yorkers are back in business.

Shoaib Malik – Pakistan

Age – 37

There are plenty of exciting young talents in Pakistan’s World Cup squad but it is veteran Shoaib Malik who provides gravitas to the batting unit with his sheer consistency. The 37-year-old has been on the international circuit for nearly two decades now after making his debut in 1999 and currently has 284 ODIs under his belt.

Malik remains Pakistan’s middle-order lynchpin with his ability to control any situation and his aggregate of over 7,500 ODI runs is testament to that fact.

Current form: After an excellent 2017 with the bat, Malik’s returns have been gradually dwindling with just three half-centuries to show for in his last 27 ODI outings. In 2019 alone, he averages just under 27 with a mere 242 runs in nine innings. His bowling output has almost come to a grinding halt in recent months with Malik no longer being the dependable all-rounder he once was.

World Cup record: Surprisingly, Malik has just made three appearances in the World Cup so far where he has a highest score of 62 along with one wicket with the ball.

Malik has been Pakistan's Mr. Dependable.

Malik has been Pakistan’s Mr. Dependable.

MS Dhoni – India

Age: 37

While he might not have officially declared his intentions to retire just yet, the 2019 World Cup could be the last time we see MS Dhoni in India colours. The 37-year-old veteran has won it all as the country’s skipper including the 2011 World Cup on home soil and has been one of the longest-standing servants of Indian cricket with over 10,000 runs under his belt.

Current form: After what was a dismal 2018 for the wicketkeeper-batsman in limited-overs cricket, Dhoni has been showing signs of a resurgence. The right-hander is averaging nearly 82 with the bat in 2019 and put in a man-of-the-series display in India’s 2-1 win over Australia Down Under. He is also coming off the back of an excellent individual IPL campaign for Chennai Super Kings where he averaged over 83 with the bat.

World Cup record: Dhoni’s record in the competition is a healthy one with 507 runs in 17 innings at an average of over 42. His defining moment remains his unbeaten 91 in the final of the 2011 edition against Sri Lanka to lead India to their second title.

Dhoni will want to add one more World Cup title to his kitty.

Dhoni will want to add one more World Cup title to his kitty.

Chris Gayle – West Indies

Age: 39

He might be nearing 40 but Chris Gayle has plenty left in the tank if his recent displays against England and in the IPL for Kings XI Punjab are anything to go by. The veteran opener has been handed the added responsibility of the Windies vice-captaincy for his final World Cup campaign which will also mark the end of his international career. One of the most explosive modern-day batsmen in the game, Gayle brings to the table an experience of 289 ODIs where he has scored more than 10,000 runs with 25 centuries under his belt.

Current form: The Caribbean side will be buoyed by the southpaw’s recent form with Gayle going on a marauding run against England in the five-match ODI series held earlier his year. The Jamaican slammed two tons and as many fifties in that series with his ODI batting average in 2019 standing at a staggering 106. He also had an excellent IPL campaign this year where he scored 490 runs at a strike-rate of nearly 154 while striking a total of 34 sixes.

World Cup record: Gayle relishes performing on the biggest of stages with the left-hander nearing 1,000 runs in the competition after 26 appearances. He is one of only two batsmen to have registered a double ton in the World Cup following his 215 against Zimbabwe in 2015.

Gayle will want to bow out in style for the West Indies.

Gayle will want to bow out in style for the West Indies.

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