It had really just happened. India lost a run-chase against West Indies. A batting line-up that has developed a fierce reputation of chasing down whatever is in front of them, could not reach 190.

And at the centre of it all was Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

After the match was over, the cameras turned to the former captain. We are used to Dhoni not showing any emotion after the craziest of finishes, but this time it was not a lack of emotion – this time it was a vacant stare into the distance.

An unidentified member of the squad held out his hand besides Dhoni, but he was seemingly not even aware of it. He was then tapped on his shoulder, to make him realise there was a hand to be shook. This was the usually very self-aware Dhoni, unusually, being lost in his own world.

Why wouldn’t he be? What preceded that moment will perhaps go down as one of the most bizarre innings he has played in his career. The match-winner par excellence had just scored the slowest ODI fifty of his career – 114 balls for his 54. No sixes. Just one hit to the boundary that came after 102 balls. From overs 21 to 40, Dhoni faced 65 balls, 44 of them not fetching him a run. It was not as if he was struggling for timing, he simply could not find the gaps. Bizarre would be an understatement to describe that innings.

Now, let’s get one thing out of the way. Did India lose primarily because of that Dhoni innings? Yes, yes, they did. There are no two ways about that. We can sit here and sugarcoat the innings, saying it was a collective failure.

We can talk about the less-bizarre-but-equally-confusing approach from Ajinkya Rahane. We can talk about how Ravindra Jadeja showed once again that, for all his rockstar persona, he doesn’t have a cricketing brain. We can even talk about Virat Kohli’s new-found trouble with the bouncers and how that’s a concern ahead of away tours. We can, like many observers on social media chose to, focus on the brilliance of West Indies bowlers and the shrewd captaincy by Jason Holder, to be politically correct.

But no, the bulk of the responsibility lies squarely at the feet of Dhoni. And here’s the other thing: that is all right.

When Dhoni came in to bat, with Rahane going steady at the other end, India required 143 runs from 224 balls. Forget the pitch, forget the bowling, forget the loss of three early wickets, that was still achievable for two men who made fifties at the same venue, just two days earlier. Setting the ‘game of glorious uncertainties’ cliche aside for a minute, if either of Rahane or Dhoni batted till the fag end of the match from then on, it should have been a certain win for India. As it turned out, Dhoni was there till the end of the 49th over and India still ended up losing.

Enough has been written about Dhoni’s waning finishing powers. It was discussed after he failed to take India past the finishing line against New Zealand in Delhi last year. It was discussed after the South Africa series in 2015. For a man who has done it so often in the past, the occasions he doesn’t, will obviously dominate the headlines.

Instead of dwelling on this one match-changing blockathon, fans and observers will need to worry only if this happens with increasing frequency. He showed in the the third ODI that, on his day, he’s still got it. He showed in the fourth ODI that those days won’t be as frequent.

Statistics show he’s not the finisher he once was but he has, in the last two years, improved his game in certain aspects too. He is evolving. So, call this a bad performance, a poorly judged chase, without falling back on how one should give him the benefit of doubt for what he has done in the past. But that’s about it.

There is no ‘bigger picture’ in this case, as long as it’s a one-off. Everyone has bad days in the office; it’s just how professional sport is. There is no need to gloss over the fact that he messed up and at the same time, the reactions don’t have to as extreme as “he is a legend, stop criticising him” or “it’s time to drop him”. The truth, as is the case often, lies in the middle.

This defeat was down to Dhoni’s innings but, as the best of athletes do, he will probably be the first person to acknowledge that, take it on the chin, dust it off and move on.