Is it the end of the road for MS Dhoni in the Indian team?
“That’s what I made clear that we are moving on and giving opportunities to youngsters and see that they establish themselves in the side. With Rishabh Pant doing so well and even Sanju Samson coming into the side, I’m sure you understand the thought process.”
The chief selector also made it clear that Pant will be the first-choice keeper for the Indian team from now on.
“I have been very very clear on this that we have started backing Rishabh Pant and we will still back him and see that he progresses well. He might not have had the best of matches, but we can only make a player (grow) by backing him. We are very very confident that he will come out successful."
Dhoni has been struggling to force the pace with the bat in the last couple of years. In fact, the last time Dhoni scored an ODI hundred was way back in January 2017. During the World Cup, his struggles were on display as well. In the game against minnows Afghanistan, the spinners tied him down, and Dhoni consumed 52 balls and made a scratchy 28. And, in the high-profile semi-final against New Zealand, Dhoni scored at a strike rate of just 69.44, when the need of the hour was to score at a more rapid pace.
And age is certainly not on his side with Dhoni turning 38 this July. After the World Cup, Dhoni has not appeared in a match for India. He has also not made his plans clear.
But uncertainly has always acted as a mask as far as Dhoni is concerned. In the 2007 T20 World Cup, he tossed the ball to little known Joginder Sharma over the more seasoned Harbhajan Singh. He promoted himself ahead of the in-form Yuvraj Singh in the 2011 World Cup final, and the rest is indeed history. He walked away from Test cricket at the age of 32, when he was still the captain of the side.
But now, with the cloak of invincibility slowly falling off, people want answers. The selectors have given an indication that Dhoni might no longer be the first-choice keeper. And, with the T20 World Cup a year away, it would be difficult for Dhoni to be in the scheme of things.
Dhoni made his name as a captain for his ability to take tough decisions and not take a step back. But now the tables have turned. Dhoni is in the firing line, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that his future as an Indian cricketer is not secure anymore.