Perform or perish - Gautam Gambhir has his say on MS Dhoni's chances of making 2019 World Cup squad
What's the story?
The 35-year-old emphasised that performances, and not pedigree, should be the criteria for selection no matter how much experience or lack of it, the player is having.
"The only way he (Dhoni) can survive till the 2019 World Cup is if he keeps performing.and that should be the criteria for irrespective of whether he is MS Dhoni or someone like Manish Pandey who's been selected to play for the country," Gambhir told ESPNcricinfo.
Gambhir offered his sympathy to Dinesh Karthik as he felt that the Indian selectors have treated the Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper-batsman unfairly despite him performing well whenever he has got a chance to wear the Indian jersey, including the recent series in the Carribean.
"Somewhere I feel that Dinesh Karthik missing out has been a very massive loss for us because he wasn't given a lot of opportunities and whenever he got the opportunity, he did well in the West Indies. He could have the backup wicket-keeping option," he said.
With the 2019 ICC Wolrd Cup less than two years away, Indian skipper Virat Kohli had commented recently about the need to start defining specific roles for specific players.
The competition for places in the Indian middle order is pretty high with the likes of KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedhar Jadhav set to fight it out for the two spots available in the 5-match ODI series against Sri Lanka which begins on Sunday.
The heart of the matter
Going ahead, Gambhir feels that the wicketkeeper slot should also be based on merit and not just based on past performances.
Question marks have been raised about Dhoni's place in the side with the 36-year-old in a race against time to be in contention for the 2019 World Cup.
Despite not being the aggressive batsman of his early days, Dhoni still remains an integral part of the Indian limited-overs side having remodelled his game to suit the needs of the team.
The impressive performances of rookie Rishabh Pant and the experienced Dinesh Karthik have however led to suggestions that Dhoni's place in the side is no longer guaranteed and Gambhir feels that consistency and performances should be taken into account to decide on the best player for the job.
With the Indian selectors not including Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant in the squad for the ODI series against Sri Lanka, MS Dhoni will be looking to silence his critics beginning with the first of five matches that will be played at Dambulla on Sunday.
A lone T20I will also be played between the two sides at Colombo after the 5-match ODI series.
Virat Kohli has a problem of plenty at the moment in almost all departments of the game as far as the Indian ODI squad is concerned with many talented players having to wait for their chance on the sidelines.
MS Dhoni has been one of India's greatest ever players in limited-overs cricket and he will be almost 38 by the time the 2019 World Cup approaches.
However, by opting to retire early from Test cricket, he has set his priorities right and has kept himself in the best physical shape and those reflexes are as good as it has ever been.
As Gambhir said, if the performances are good, there is no reason why Dhoni should not be in contention for the 2019 World Cup, despite his age.