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Build your own team, 'Captain' Kohli.

ANALYST
Feature
Timeless

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Imagine the likes of the unmovable Rahul Dravid, the influential Sourav Ganguly, and the savior VVS Laxman being dropped from the team squad in order to introduce the likes of Piyush Chawla and Suresh Raina.

Sounds out-of-world, but our imagination is not just a fantasy, it is something that has happened for real, in the Commonwealth Bank Tri-Series 2008, featuring India, Australia, and Sri Lanka.

The one who took such a courageous decision was the Indian captain, the boss, the leader, the skipper, none other than Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Even the team selectors were in full support of launching young, fresh blood in the team.

The consequence of such a bold move was a severe heartbreak for genuine fans of Dada, Dravid, and Laxman. But just when Captain Cool was receiving hatred from the die-hard cricket fans of that time, new MS Dhoni devotees took birth.

Now, coming to the question regarding why Dhoni was tempted to drop three of the best Indian batsmen of that time. He made the tough call because he wanted young players in the team, who could be long-term prospects for team India. Since the squad changes were implemented for the limited-overs matches, energetic fielders and zealous youths were the need of the time.

A young captain would always dream of building a young side which doesn't get tired up soon. That masterstroke from Dhoni embarked the revival of Indian cricket and kicked off the golden era.

Now, things have changed a lot; India is the number 1 ranked Test side in the world; captain Virat Kohli is in charge of the team and he's doing well; India already has a Test series win in Australia and ODI series victory in South Africa.

Fresh talents are available, Jasprit Bumrah is manhandling the opposition, the spin-twins demonstrating a tidy brand of wrist-spin bowling, Hardik Pandya is adding value to the team as an all-rounder, Rishabh Pant is impressing everyone, Prithvi Shaw has begun his Test career on a high and Shubman Gill is knocking the doors of the selectors along with many more.

But one thing has remained constant, Mahendra Singh Dhoni; but not the same vintage Dhoni we enjoyed watching.

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Yeah, Mahi still scores runs at times, but not with the flair and attitude he possessed in the past; he still hits big sixes occasionally, but not with the same class he had before. Mahi hasn't forgotten the art of saving the team from collapses, but he has not been doing it as convincingly as he used to do before.

The run flow has been restricted, the strike-rotation has been average, the reflexes are declining and the young talents are knocking the door of selectors every time he comes out to bat and returns with an ill-lit expression.

Although Dhoni has scored valuable runs, rotated the strike properly and hit big shots in some of his match-winning innings in recent past, but how often? Not only has Dhoni saved India several times, but he has also cost India matches by restricting the team's momentum by consuming a lot of balls.

While the Indian skipper Kohli has gained immense success in winning matches around the world, especially in the Tests and ODIs, he still seems to be insecure as the leader of the best team in the world, as he looks unable to take clear and courageous decisions; a deficiency in captain Kohli that has cost India heavily on a few occasions.

Everyone acknowledges Dhoni's contribution to Indian cricket and respects it, but is it now time for him to make his way from international cricket. If in-form players like Dravid and Ganguly can once be axed from the team, why not Dhoni, who is well past his prime?

If Dhoni produces valuable and match-defining knocks more often, then the Indian team would feel lucky to have the services of such a player; but if his good knocks come once in a blue moon, it would be less-worthy.

Maybe it's too late now to find a substitute for Dhoni. Maybe Dhoni can regain his lost form back within a period of a few months, maybe Dhoni gets hold of his vintage form. But outside the maybes, perhaps it is the time for Kohli to build a team of his own.








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