“If 15 runs are needed off the last over, pressure is on the bowler… not on MS Dhoni.” – Ian Bishop
It’s been almost 10 months since the former Indian captain, MS Dhoni last appeared on a cricket field. Post the disastrous end to India’s world cup campaign, Dhoni has been missing from action. Though the Indian team management have been vocal about the team looking for options beyond him, Ravi Shastri’s recent statement made the fans believe that an impressive Indian Premier League (IPL) can still open the doors back for the veteran. However, now with the IPL likely to be called off, MSD’s career hangs on a thinner thread. And knowing MS, it shouldn’t come in as a surprise if the maestro silently decides to bid international cricket a farewell. But the real question is – Are we ready to let Dhoni go? Are we really past him yet?
For more than a year now, India has been looking to find someone to fill in the big boots of Dhoni. Rishabh Pant has had the most chances, but has failed to see India through. He has also lost his place in the Test side to Wriddhiman Saha. Having said that, Pant remains one with a lot of promise and the management is keen to keep him in the loop for a bit more.
Meanwhile, the most recent of India’s experiments, KL Rahul, has been impressive in his limited outings and his inclusion has also allowed India to play an extra batsman in the lower middle order. But, is he the final answer to India’s wicket-keeping woes? Well, only time will tell….
Dhoni has been one of Indian cricket’s most efficient servants and finding a replacement won’t be easy. The position comes with a lot of responsibility and legacy bringing larger expectations. Not only does the replacement keeper have to deliver with the bat and behind the stumps; but, being closest to the pitch, he will play a key role in giving insights to the captain and the bowler – an art that Dhoni has mastered over the years.
Throughout his career, Dhoni has selflessly done whatever’s been asked of him. His finishing abilities might have declined but he has shown command to carry along India’s fragile middle order until recently (India’s tour of Australia 2019). If the current Indian squad lacks something (in limited overs cricket), it is a cool head that MS brought to the fore. An innate ability to soak in pressure, take the game deep and see the game through – skills that are difficult to possess, let alone master.
It sure will be unfair to bring Dhoni back straight away without any practice. But, letting him off without a chance, just before a big world cup, might be even more disastrous.
After all – ‘Till the full stop comes, the sentence is not over’