India vs New Zealand 2017: Ajit Agarkar urges Indian team to look past MS Dhoni in T20Is
What's the story?
Former seam bowler Ajit Agarkar has called upon the Indian team to move past the experienced MS Dhoni in T20Is. Expressing concerns on the 36-year old's waning reflexes and dwindling performances of late, he urged the team management to replace the veteran wicket-keeper batsman with a younger alternative for the game's shortest format.
"I think India must now look at other options, at least in T20Is. In one-day cricket, they seem to be happy with the role that he is playing. When you were the captain of the side, it was different. But just as a batsman - will India miss him, I don’t think so. In T20 cricket, it is lot easier to make that transition as there is lot of experience in that team apart from MS Dhoni now. I mean a younger player can always make a difference", Agarkar told ESPNCricinfo.
The 39-year old elaborated, "You had a chance (in the Rajkot T20I) if he (Dhoni) had got going immediately but that has been his problem for a while now. It’s not tonight or over the last few games. He takes a little bit of time to settle down and in T20 cricket, there is no time."
The recently completed second T20I between India and New Zealand at the SCA Stadium in Rajkot presented yet another example of Dhoni's diminishing prowess. With his team chasing a massive target of 197, he could only manage a below par 37-ball 49 even as the required run-rate kept increasing rapidly.
The heart of the matter
While the in-form Virat Kohli showed the way by operating with intent, Dhoni struggled to time the ball. The seasoned campaigner's sluggish scoring-rate piled pressure on the Indian captain. Instead of veering into his strong zone, the New Zealand bowlers attacked the wicket-keeper batsman by bowling short.
Extra Cover: Should Dhoni consider retirement from T20Is?
Even though the surface did not overtly assist the pacers, Dhoni appeared uncomfortable at the crease and grappled with the shorter deliveries. At one point in his innings, he was stationed at 28 off 28 balls despite the required rate creeping up to stifling levels. With the game all but over, he smashed a few boundaries to shore up his run-rate. New Zealand triumphed by 40 runs to level the series. On the other hand, the battle-hardened right-hander found himself receiving criticism from various quarters.
All eyes will be on Dhoni when India and New Zealand square off in the 3rd T20I at Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday. With the series at stake, there might be considerable pressure on the home team's batting lineup.
Considering the fact that the next edition of the World T20 is slated to happen only in 2020, it does not make much sense for Dhoni to keep playing in T20Is. The team management as well as the selectors need to have a honest discussion with the veteran regarding his future in the shortest format of the game. Walking away from T20Is will only help him channel his energy completely towards the 50-over format.