Indian selectors in hot seat as life after Dhoni looms - GulfToday

Indian selectors in hot seat as life after Dhoni looms

Dhoni

Finding a replacement for Mahendra Singh Dhoni will top the agenda when India’s selectors meet in Mumbai on Sunday to pick the squad for the tour of West Indies.

MUMBAI: Mahendra Singh Dhoni has opted out of India’s tour of the West Indies, leaving the team’s selectors to start beginning their search for his successor once the long-serving wicketkeeper-batsman hangs up his boots for good.

The former India skipper has decided to take a two-month break and serve his army regiment after a gruelling India Premier League season and the 2019 World Cup. He has informed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that he is joining the Parachute Regiment of the Territorial Army.

Sources in the know of developments though said that this was in no way to be considered a move towards retirement.

“He has had a long season where he played the IPL with a sore back and then also played in the World Cup with an injury and he felt that it was important to take a break and come back fresh. With the selectors set to meet in Mumbai on Sunday to pick the squad for the Windies series, he has informed the board that he will be serving his army regiment for the next two months. This has nothing to do with retirement,” the source said.

Earlier, skipper Virat Kohli had made it clear that the team management hadn’t heard anything from Dhoni on his future. But the former skipper has now sent across the message to all concerned.

Finding a replacement for Dhoni will top the agenda when India’s selectors meet in Mumbai on Sunday to pick the squad for the tour of West Indies.

Dhoni, who turned 38 this month during the Cricket World Cup, enjoys cult status in the cricket-mad country after he captained the side to the World Twenty20 title in 2007 and their second 50-over World Cup title in 2011 at home.

The veteran of 350 one-dayers, however, has been the subject of intense speculation on his retirement from international cricket over the past few days since India’s semi-final exit from the World Cup.

Dhoni, who quit playing tests at the end of 2014, has not provided even a hint of what his plans are but he enjoys unwavering support from India captain Virat Kohli who has publicly backed him on numerous occasions.

“He is not retiring from cricket right now. He is taking a two month sabbatical to serve his paramilitary regiment which he had committed much earlier,” the BCCI official said.

Widely considered as the best ‘finisher’ in contemporary cricket, Dhoni has recently struggled to start his innings while his ability to put bowlers to the sword at the end has also been on the wane.

Dhoni’s glovework, however, still remains top class and questions have been raised by former cricketers, pundits and local media if it was the right time for him to step away and help India groom his successor.

The next 50-over World Cup is still four years away but the World Twenty20 will be held in 2020, leaving chief selector MSK Prasad and his colleagues to plan for the tournament in Australia.

India will play three T20s, three ODIs and two tests in the Caribbean and the tour will provide the opportunity for the selectors to also test the fringe players while resting some who play all three formats for the team.

India’s test wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, the favourite to fill in Dhoni’s shoes in the limited overs formats, slotted into the role during the latter stages of the World Cup, while Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill are also in the mix.

Meanwhile, the former India captain’s childhood coach Keshav Banerjee feels Dhoni is still fit to continue and if the Indian team wants the best out of him, the selectors should think of managing his workload properly.

Agencies