Time for India to look beyond MS Dhoni in T20 Internationals?

first_imgTeam India’s experimentation with the middle-order has been going on for a while keeping in mind the 2019 World Cup in England.Virat Kohli has tried Yuvraj Singh, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav and even Hardik Pandya in the No. 4 and 5 slots around Mahendra Singh Dhoni in one-day international cricket. While some have failed, some have met with moderate success. The likes of Yuvraj, Manish and Jadhav have been patchy but thanks to the calming influence of Dhoni, India have survived a scare and eased through to the top of the rankings and are now second to South Africa due to points in the ODI format.And recently, the team’s experimentation has even shifted to the shortest format of the game. In the recent series against New Zealand, India handed a debut to Shreyas Iyer and dropped Jadhav. In the first game, thanks to a brilliant start by Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, the hosts got away and the middle-order did not have to do much but in the second game, India stumbled in the chase of 197 at Rajkot. Iyer was pushed to three, Kohli came in at 4 and looked dangerous but the batsmen around him were struggling. (MS Dhoni a good helping hand for Virat Kohli: David Warner to India Today)While Pandya struggled to pick Ish Sodhi, Dhoni took too long to settle in, forcing Kohli to go after the bowling and end up giving away his wicket.BCCI PhotoDhoni scored 49 off 37 balls with a strike-rate of 132. It may not be all that bad but the former captain’s inability to rotate strike much like the past one year,  proved to be a cause for concern. He is still lightning quick between the wickets but he has struggled to hit the ball right from the word go nor has he been able to create enough opportunities to steal quick singles.advertisementIn Dhoni’s innings in the second T20I against the Black Caps, he had scored 26 runs in boundaries from five deliveries (3×6, 2×4) and managed only 23 from the remaining 32 deliveries, which is far less than run a ball.Dhoni, over the years, has evolved as a player and takes some time to settle in and then he has a go towards the end. While this suits India in the 50-over format, it is a bit of a worry in T20s. He could be a perfect No. 4 in ODIs…also in T20s if the team loses early wickets, is he really a person to bank on when you need 12-13 run-per-over right from the word go? His current stats and numbers certainly suggest otherwise and pundits and greats of the game would definitely agree.”In T20s, MS Dhoni’s role is at No 4. He requires more time to get his eye in and then do the job. But (the match on) Saturday  was a classical example because when Kohli was batting, Dhoni had to give strike to Kohli. Kohli’s strike rate was 160, MS Dhoni’s strike rate was 80. That’s not good enough when India were chasing a mammoth total,” Laxman said in a post-match show.”I still feel it’s time for MS Dhoni to give youngsters a chance in T20 format. It will be an opportunity for a youngster to blossom and get confidence playing international cricket. He is definitely an integral part of ODI cricket,” he added.Another legend of the game, Sourav Ganguly, in an interview with India Today , had this to say about Dhoni’s T20 credentials: “I am not too sure if Dhoni is a good T20 player. He is a champion ODI player but when it comes to T20 cricket, in 10 years, he has got one fifty and that’s not the best record. So that’s an area which needs to be looked at.”Dhoni has scored 169 runs from eight innings in the last 10 T20 Internationals he has played, which includes only one fifty against England in Bengaluru in February.He has scored 1281 runs from 82 matches at an average of 35.58. The numbers are not bad but gone are the days when he would come, hammer the bowlers round the park and give his team the edge from ball one. The odd innings might be around the corner, here and there but overall, he has struggled recently and the Rajkot T20 was another example.India will face New Zealand in the series decider on Tuesday at Thiruvananthapuram and Dhoni will again play a key role if India have to clinch the three-match series. However, with the Sri Lanka series coming up, India can well afford to rest him and look at the likes of Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul. They are decent keepers and big-hitters of the ball. They might not provide the huge experience that comes with MSD but this will certainly be a step forward as India look to be the top ranked side in all formats of the game.advertisementIf they fail, there’s always MSD to fall back to as long as he is there to offer his services.last_img read more