Should Dhoni consider retirement from T20Is?
Dhoni's T20I performances of late have been below par
India lost the second T20I against New Zealand by 40 runs. One of the main reasons for India's defeat was the deficient batting in the middle overs.
India was already in a spot of bother at 67/4 in 9.1 overs when Dhoni came in to bat. With Kohli and Dhoni at the crease and a target of 129 off 55 balls, a win did not seem impossible.
Dhoni started off slowly and was struggling to score against the Kiwi spinners. He struggled to rotate the strike and kept Kohli out of strike for far too long. Kohli, despite being in sublime form, got out at 65, thereby quashing the remotest chance of winning the match.
Dhoni scored 25 runs off 25 balls, with a strike rate of 100, which is very low by T20I standards. He eventually scored 49 off 37 balls, but by then it was too late for India to squeeze out a win.
Dhoni's T20I career strike rate of 123.41 suggests that he has not done enough justice to this format of the game. Since there will be no T20I World Cup until 2020, it might be wise on his part to hang up his boots from this form and allow younger talents like Rishabh Pant to showcase their batting prowess. Pant can be very effective in T20Is, if his impressive performances in the IPL are anything to go by.
In recent times, Dhoni has struggled to rotate the strike and played too many dot balls even in ODIs. He is increasingly being seen as an accumulator rather than as the finisher that he was in his early days.
India still requires him in ODIs, and he should unquestionably be a part of the Indian team for the 2019 World Cup. The 50-over format does give the top seven batsmen enough time to settle in and launch into the final overs. His lightning-fast wicketkeeping skills and his shrewd knowledge of the game often help India get out of tricky situations.
In terms of fitness, Dhoni remains one of fastest while running between the wickets. In T20Is, however, power-hitting ability is vital, especially in the middle overs when the course of the game can be changed drastically. Over the years, we have seen that teams which perform well in the middle overs win the match more often than not.
Dhoni has not been at his attacking best. It will be up to the him and the team management to consider his effectiveness in the T20I format. Although his contributions to India's T20I wins have been significant, he might be, in my opinion, better off narrowing his focus on ODIs for the remainder of his career.