Ashish Nehra backs MS Dhoni to play in 2020 World T20
The recently retired pacer feels Dhoni adds immense value to the Indian team.
What's the story?
Amidst the raging debate from various quarters on MS Dhoni's future in the Indian T20I lineup, veteran fast bowler Ashish Nehra has backed the 36-year old gloveman to play in the next edition of the World T20 in 2020. Hailing the wicket-keeper batsman's admirable fitness level, the recently retired pacer insisted that such experienced cricketers should not be discarded from the team solely on the basis of age.
In a candid chat with India TV, Nehra asserted, "If I can bowl fast at the age of 39, Dhoni can also play (in) the 2020 T20 World Cup. Dhoni has such personality that no one needs to tell him what he needs to do; he himself is the best judge on whether he should continue playing at the highest level or not. His presence in Team India is invaluable, his experience and the value he brings to the team is simply unmatched."
He added, "Apart from his brilliant wicket-keeping skills, Dhoni (also) has the ability to read the game as he possesses a very sharp cricketing mind. Age should not be the criteria to get selected in Team India. If the player is fit and is performing well, he should retain his place in the team irrespective of his age."
Following Dhoni's under whelming 37-ball 49 in the second T20I against New Zealand at Rajkot, former Indian cricketers such as VVS Laxman and Ajit Agarkar questioned the senior right-hander's utility to the national team in the shortest format of the game.
The heart of the matter
However, legendary Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar as well as current captain Virat Kohli lashed out at critics for pointing fingers at Dhoni's recent form. The iconic Mumbaikar as well as the present batting star both defended the under-fire stalwart by arguing that the failures of younger players like Hardik Pandya are being overlooked even as the seasoned campaigner has been receiving intense criticism.
Terming Dhoni as a 'big name in Indian cricket', Nehra affirmed that the wicket-keeper batsman has been batting from a difficult position and hence is prone to fickle disapproval from time to time. He urged the national selectors to allow the experienced cricketer to make a call on his participation in the upcoming series against Sri Lanka.
With India hosting Sri Lanka for a 3-match Test series starting on November 16, the focus will shift to the premier format of the game. The limited-overs leg of the assignment is scheduled to begin with the first ODI at the picturesque HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala on December 10.
Close on the heels of the 3-match ODI series, India and Sri Lanka are also slated to square off against each other in 3 T20Is.
Considering the fact that Dhoni will be almost 39 by the time the 2020 edition of the World T20 begins in Australia, his trademark hand-eye coordination may deteriorate further. The selectors should engage in talks with the veteran on his availability for the ICC event. If he wants to retire from the international arena at the end of the 2019 50-overs World Cup, it may be more prudent to start replacing him with a younger alternative like Rishabh Pant in the coming T20I matches.