It is the worst kept secret in Indian cricket right now but India’s last match in the ongoing World Cup, in all likelihood, will also be Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s last game in India colours. If India qualify for the finals and go on to win the World Cup on July 14 at the Lord’s, it would be ideal setting for a fitting farewell to one of the legends of Indian cricket.
“You never know with MS Dhoni. But it is unlikely that he will continue to play for India after this World Cup. But since his decisions to quit captaincy from the three formats have been taken so suddenly, it is very difficult to predict at the moment,” a senior BCCI official told PTI on condition of anonymity.
The current selection committee, which is likely to stay till the October AGM, will obviously start the changeover process looking at the ICC World T20 in Australia next year. When the new selection committee takes over from the incumbents, the possible replacements for the shorter formats will be identified with reasonable time left for the World T20s.
However, with India qualifying for the semi-finals at the World Cup here, neither the team management nor the BCCI wants to talk about sensitive issue. Dhoni has scored 223 runs in seven games at a decent strike rate of 93 plus if one goes by the scorecards but what they don’t reflect is his inability to rotate the strike and strike big.
Some have attributed it to the lack of intent and some have pointed out the his waning capabilities as a finisher, something that had once made him a top short format player in the world. With the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly also being critical of his approach, the team management knows only too well that they can’t carry their “beloved captain” beyond the marquee tournament.
His on-field contribution is still immense as every player who has appeared for media interactions has pointed out.
“The team management had to take a call in 2017 after the Champions Trophy. They decided that they will invest another two years in Dhoni till the 2019 World Cup. India have reached the semi-finals despite his lukewarm performances so he has been carefully shielded,” a former India player said.
“No one can ask him to retire but obviously he has got the drift that post World Cup, things won’t be the same,” he said.