MS Dhoni’s absence from the 15-man roster announced on Thursday to take on the strong South Africans in the three-match T20I series at home once again captured everyone’s attention. Just moments after the selectors announced the T20I squad, several pundits started questioning whether Dhoni has been ignored for the home series or the writing was on the wall is clear for the former skipper. Quashing all rumours, a national selector has revealed that the ace wicketkeeper has actually given the five wise men time to build the team with an eye on the 2020 World T20 in Australia.
According to the selector, the 38-year-old has promised to take a call on his career only once Team India’s future was in safe hands and the selectors convinced that they have the required bench strength in the keeping department. The source also added that it was indeed surprising to see how the former skipper’s position is debated every other day and it was time that all rumours were put to rest because Dhoni being the team player that he is, will never come out and answer the detractors.
“There is no question of ignoring him. On the contrary, he has given us time to go ahead and plan the future keeping an eye on the World T20 next year. He realises that the team comes before public opinion and considering the fact that we still don’t have a genuine replacement if Rishabh Pant gets injured in the shorter format, Dhoni has agreed to hold on. At present, there is no question of ignoring him. Also, just prior to the West Indies tour, he took a two-month sabbatical. I am sure we are all good with our maths,” the BCCI selector was quoted by IANS.
Asked if there has been any talk with regards to what lies ahead for Dhoni post the 2019 World Cup, the selector said: “No. We are yet to sit down with him and talk about the roadmap ahead and that is why he has given us some time to chalk out our plans and look at the options that we have at our disposal. Life beyond Dhoni isn’t something that looks too bright if Pant is injured for some reason or has to miss the World T20.”
This once again brings up the question of whether Dhoni the batsman will then need to be shielded because he is clearly no longer the force he was. But the selector begs to differ with the general opinion.
“Is this the perspective of the fans? The team management clearly knows what he brings to the table. Even today, we don’t have his replacement as a finisher. Anybody who has played even one game on the international stage knows the weight of those boots. If we did have finishers, wouldn’t we get Dhoni to bat at the top and give him the leeway to get into the groove? But even during the World Cup, we knew that his experience was needed if the tail had to be guided and even though critics have questioned the decision to hold Dhoni back in the semi-final, did you see what he almost achieved?
“It is very easy to comment on someone’s game when he has played 350 ODIs and 98 T20Is. He has won the team more games than many have watched in their life. In today’s age of technology, do you think opposition bowlers don’t look at his strong and weak zones? They also take the field to compete. They wouldn’t be bowling at MS and want him to tonk them out of the park. Let’s be honest, we still don’t have a replacement if Pant gets injured in the shortest format of the game,” he signed off.