EDITOR’S NOTE: Only earlier this week, AB de Villiers rubbished discussion of Dhoni’s position in the Indian Cricket team. In a report in Hindustan Times, he was quoted – in fact, headlined – as saying, ‘Dhoni can be 80, in a wheelchair, and he would still play for my team’. Of course, as it turns out, the selectors of India’s T20 squads for West Indies series and Australia tour don’t think so, and, to the utter disbelief of fans and publication, didn’t include him in the lineups.
We bring you an opinion piece authored by senior journalist Veturi Srivatsa on the unceremonious exclusion of Dhoni, and other aspects pertaining to the selection of the squads for the two series. Read on.
How did the selectors handle the Dhoni issue? Did they take the great man into confidence to tell the world that they are bringing down the curtain on his Twenty20 career? It does not appear they have thought of such niceties.
None of the selectors might have remembered that in his last Twenty20 game at Bristol, Dhoni created two world records, becoming the first wicketkeeper to take five catches in a Twenty20 international and also the first man to effect 50 dismissals in the shortest format.
Prasad’s explanation that there are six Twenty20s coming up in about a month and Dhoni won’t be playing and that they want to look at the second wicket-keeper between Rishab Pant, who appears to have come to stay in all three formats, and, lo and behold, Dinesh Karthik.
Prasad could have as well allowed Dhoni to take the call as there won’t be anything left between the tour of Australia and the 2019 World Cup, which by all accounts is going to be his last major assignment in India colours, having retired from Test cricket in 2014.
Dhoni could have been given the opportunity of creating another record, statistically! He made his ODI debut in December 2004 at Chittagong and a year later played his first Test against Sri Lanka in Chennai, again in December.
Curiously, he made his Twenty20 debut also in the month of December, in Johannesburg in 2006 and he played his last Test in December, 2014 – and none of the players who who turned out in his debut Test was there.
If he had gone to Australia next month, he would not have ended his Twenty20 international career in December as the three-match series would have ended on November 25 and it is highly improbable he would wait till next December to play his last Twenty20 international!
Among the top international cricketers who are his contemporaries are Alastair Cook, who called it a day after the Oval Test against India last month, and AB De Villers, who has also decided to quit after playing in what he called fantastic series against India and Australia earlier in this year.
Dhoni will be remembered more fondly than most of his contemporaries as he captained India to victories in the 2007 World Twenty20, 2011 50-over World Cup and also took India to the pinnacle of Test cricket as number one team.
Much more can be said about him but that can wait for the day he finally bows out from ODIs. The rest can be completed by the statisticians who have recorded plenty of things about him.
The selectors look at players the way millions of others do in India. All that Prasad would say about the Test squad to Australia is that it is a mixture of experience and youth.
He has nothing to say why Karun Nair is out without playing, though he thought Rohit Sharma’s backfoot play will come in handy on hard bouncy Australian wickets. He had nothing to say why there are three spinners, unless Ravindra Jadeja is in as an all-rounder.
If Murali Vijay’s past record in Australia and Parthiv Patel’s keeping and batting in Duleep Trophy pick them, Prasad has nothing to say about Mayank Agarwal’s tons of runs in domestic cricket and for India A. Also, whether Shikhar Dhawan played his last Test outside the subcontinent.