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The Dhoni dilemma continues

Rishoth
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
275   //    15 Jan 2019, 02:26 IST

The everlasting debate about the Indian middle-order in ODIs just doesn’t seem to end. A rare top order collapse put the Indian middle order under the scanner at the SCG. Chasing what seemed to be a “below par” target of 289; India did not get off to the best of starts. Losing three wickets for nothing put the onus on Rohit Sharma and M.S.Dhoni.

Australia v India - ODI: Game 1
Australia v India - ODI: Game 1

Quite a few people expected Dinesh Karthik to come out at 5, but it was the man who thrives under pressure that walked out. Needing to calm the early jitters, Dhoni and Rohit Sharma took their time in setting up the innings. Just when everything seemed to be going good, Dhoni got a harsh decision. And after that, it was only Rohit who tried to take India home but it was mountain to climb. Eventually India fell short by 34 runs.

The biggest talking point of the game was the way that Dhoni went about his innings. He did not find it easy to rotate strike and was not able to score freely after he settled down. Yes, he maybe a touch unlucky that he got a harsh call just about when he was about to accelerate.

Now raises the biggest question. Is M.S.Dhoni the right option for the World Cup 2019? Will Indian cricket take a brave call? To leave a player of Dhoni’s caliber is not a joke. We all know what he brings to the table with his experience and wicket-keeping skills. But with the likes of Rishabh Pant in the mix, is it possible for him to replace M.S. Dhoni for the World Cup?

Rishab Pant averages below 30 in LIST A cricket
Rishab Pant averages below 30 in LIST A cricket

Looking back at 2018, Dhoni did not have a great year. He averaged about 25 in his 13 innings. His strike-rate last year was 72, which is way low compared to his career strike-rate of 87.61.

Now, the only apt replacement for M.S.Dhoni is the young Rishabh Pant - he has shown what he is he capable of in the series Down Under. He is young, fearless and flamboyant. In the limited opportunities he got in white-ball cricket, he was not able to take the world by storm.

Even considering his List-A average isn’t great by numbers. He averages below 30 with a solitary hundred to his name. This doesn’t take anything away from the young talented wicket keeping batsman. He is the future of Indian Cricket.

But the biggest question is, will he be able to put in performances at a big stage such as the World Cup taking into account that he hasn’t had much of white ball experience at the top level.

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Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have been vocal about how important M.S.Dhoni is to the team. Though he is not the captain, he is still the leader. Taking into account his wealth of experience and knowledge, it wouldn’t be ideal to drop him.

Yes, Pant can play as the finisher in this Indian Team. But at the cost of M.S.Dhoni? Not so sure. So, it will be a very interesting decision to take for the Indian side, knowing that they have around only 12 more ODIs before the World Cup. 

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