While there has been much speculation about MS Dhoni’s international future, the man himself continues to stay silent on the subject. In keeping with his phlegmatic demeanor on the cricket field, MSD has been tight-lipped but with a World Cup on the horizon, the BCCI may want a definitive answer sooner rather than later.
Dhoni has been unable to let his cricket do the talking and while that silence continues, so will the gossip and rumour. Will we see MSD in Indian blue once again or is it time to move on to the new brigade?
Having been such a focal point of India’s limited-overs success in the past, the selectors should be keen to include Dhoni in the squad for the T20 World Cup which starts in Australia this October. India were the first champions in the new format but, having claimed that initial success in 2007, 13 barren years have followed.
Looking ahead to the 2020 edition of the tournament, early cricket betting markets from bet365 show India as second favorites at 7/2, and that puts Virat Kohli’s men behind hosts Australia at 5/2. MS Dhoni will be 39 when the competition begins Down Under but even though he’s edged into the veteran status, he will have a role to play if he is available.
Dhoni is closing in on 100 caps at T20i level and in 98 appearances to date, his figures underline his value to the team. MSD averages 37.60 with the bat but more importantly, his strike rate of 126.13 shows how vital he is to any side in the death overs.
While Dhoni handed over captaincy duties some time ago, he remains a highly respected figure within the team and someone who current skipper Kohli can turn to when required. His bowling has offered little more than an entertaining sideshow but his displays with bat and gloves, combined with his experience make MSD a genuine all-rounder.
If Dhoni doesn’t make the trip to Australia later this year, India isn’t out of alternatives. Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson have stepped in to take over the gloves but while both men have shown some promise, neither has been consistent enough to claim the wicketkeeper’s spot on a regular basis.
Pant is considered to be the most destructive of the two men but while his T20i strike rate is comparable to Dhoni’s, the 22-year-old has returned a disappointing average of 20.50 from 28 matches. Meanwhile, Samson’s four T20 games at the international level have returned an average in single figures and a strike rate below 100.
KL Rahul has also taken the gloves for India with some effect and the extra responsibility hasn’t been detrimental to his batting. India do have options behind the stumps for the T20 World Cup in Australia but it’s clear that the most positive choice right now would be to take a fit and focussed MS Dhoni into the tournament.