When the ball induced the top edge of Chanderpaul Hemaraj and lobs towards short fine leg, for a moment, he must have felt he would get away with this. But the 37-year-old veteran had other plans. Making a good ground to his right and then dives full stretch. Khaleel Ahmed at fine leg was just stunned in the smile. Yes, MS Dhoni is 37. But he is still 20 by his fitness. Unlike the catch, the day has been not great for MS. Hashtags such as #DropDhoni has been trending since Pune ODI. He is doing flashes of lightning behind the stumps. He is guiding the spinners with his experience. But still, he is being criticized. So either #DropDhoni or #BelieveInDhoni
“He [Dhoni] is not going to be play the six T20Is [West Indies and Australia] because we are looking at the second keeper’s slot. So I think we will retain Rishabh [Pant] and Dinesh Karthik. So they will be getting a chance to keep and bat”
We can’t blame the Selectors or fans for the criticism. With the bat, he is not the same Dhoni we know. He has really forgotten his hitting skills. But Is it over? Is it time to make a change? Only 7 months left for the World Cup, the selectors have to make it clear. Ongoing West Indies Series, One-dayers and T20’s in Australia and New Zeland which is followed by Home Series against Australia. The remaining matches India going to play in Blue before next June look like this. In exact numbers, we can say, 15 One-dayers and 11 T20.
In those 26 Days, 6 Days are already gone as Dhoni is not featuring in next 6 T20’s. Even though Chief Selector made it clear that it is not the end of Dhoni in T20’s, the fans and Pandits are not sure that he will play for India again in T20’s. And he is no more playing in Whites, both for India and Jharkhand. Syed Musthaq Ali Trophy and IPL are the only games he is getting apart from those 15 ODIS. How far a team like Jharkhand goes is unpredictable. Similarly playing IPL, under his own reign is a completely different platform.
In fact, the number of days he gets before the World cup is 15. In 7 months, just 15 days. Moreover, he is struggling with the bat. Is he really running out of time? If the selectors want him for the next world cup, then they should have given him more time. But that’s not the case here. And just with the bat, Can Pant or Karthik fill the shoes of Dhoni? World Cup is in England, and we know how big it would be.
There comes the value of a player like MS. Even if he went for zero in 2013 Champions trophy final there, the match is still remembered for his ability to stay calm under pressure. There is no one like Dhoni in this squad who can bring the maximum from his players. Under pressure, we would miss him. But he has to make sure he is among the runs in the chances he gets before the next World Cup.
In 18 matches in 2018, he is averaging just 25.20. Strike rate of 68.10 is something we never expect from the legend, who holds the record of maximum sixes for India. The man with 10k runs at an average of 50+ is averaging 25. The man, who is known for his Sixes, is struggling to connect the ball. Unbelievable, but the truth is that. Is his skill or attitude making it worse? Over consciousness is something that really let his batting down. He is not trying to go big. He is taking his time and trying to play according to the situation. We are not big enough to question his skill or attitude. But it’s a fact that he is failing miserably to rotate his strike, as the old Dhoni does.
But is it just Dhoni? Just look deep. Pant is being unable to convert his small scores. Even Karthik too failed to time the ball in Asia Cup. Jadhav’s fitness is still being unpredictable. Manis Pandey has never been consistent enough to cement his spot. And finally, if we look at Hardik Pandya, who is considered as the current finisher, the stats are even worse than Dhoni. So it’s not just with Dhoni. When the top three fires, they just continue till 40th over. And India’s top three has been incredible and most of the time wickets are not falling till the 40th over. It is difficult for a new batsman to come and hit from the first ball he faces. Because of the new rules, Runs are not flowing in the last 10 overs. It’s a fact.
Give the players more time in the middle. Players like Dhoni seems to be stage fright is something unacceptable. A series tied 1-1 with two games to play would seem like the perfect setting for players like Dhoni. And still, if he is not performing, either give him time or just drop him as soon as possible.
Dhoni, who has been a team man, should also be aware of his form. Like he dropped seniors for being slow in the field, to win the World Cup, here too he has to do something to win the World Cup. Current Scenario not suits for a legend like Dhoni. So either quit or perform. Hopefully, Dhoni will rediscover his famed hitting skills and India will go to England with the grey beard man. Because at the end of the day, its difficult to replace his experience and definitely India will need that Dhoni-Touch.