Former India fast bowler Ajit Agarkar has received a lot of criticism on social media for his views on wicketkeeper batsman MS Dhoni and his suggestion the Indian team should look beyond the gloveman in T20 cricket.
Dhoni’s position in the Indian T20 team has been questioned in some quarters and Agarkar is one of the few former cricketers to openly suggest the Indian team won’t necessarily miss Dhoni in T20 cricket. The 36-year-old faced some flak for his 37-ball 49 while chasing 197 in the second T20 against New Zealand in the recently concluded series.
However, Dhoni himself isn’t too worried about the criticism. While speaking during the launch of the MS Dhoni Cricket Academy, in partnership with Pacific Sports Club and Aarka Sports at Springdales School, Dubai, Dhoni said people are entitled to their views.
“Everybody has views in life and it should be respected,” was the wicketkeeper’s brief reply to a question on Agarkar’s recent remarks.
Dhoni doesn’t play Tests anymore and is almost certain to be the No1 keeper in ODIs. However, the Indians might be tempted try out someone like a Rishabh Pant in T20 cricket if Dhoni’s indifferent form in T20s continues.
MS Dhoni arrives for the launch of his new cricket academy here in Dubai.
— Stu Appleby (@Stuart_Appleby) November 11, 2017
India’s limited overs team looks far from settled in both formats with places still up for grabs ahead of a challenging season that includes away tours of South Africa and England leading up to the 2019 World Cup in England.
Star performers like Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina are struggling to make a comeback having failed to pass the new ‘Yo Yo’ fitness test that has become compulsory for all international aspirants.
While the Indian team struggles to find any sort of stability in the middle order and proven middle order players like Yuvraj and Raina continue to remain outside the mix, former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin said the team should consider relaxing the norms for players in the twilight of their careers.
“I really don’t know what the Yo-Yo Test is. But as far as fitness is concerned, everyone has to be fit. If you are not fit, you don’t play. It happens in football or any other sport. But I feel there are players almost in the twilight of their careers but who are still very, very good. Maybe fitness for them can be relaxed a little,” Azharuddin told Sport360 on the sidelines of the UAE-India Economic Forum 2017 in Dubai.
“Like for a player like Yuvraj, he has gone through so much because of his illness (cancer). I don’t think he would have passed the ‘Yo Yo’ test. There are other players as well. I am a very big fan of Suresh Raina. I feel he should come back. I saw him one and a half months back and he has become very fit. But if the team has taken a decision, you need to back it.”
Another veteran who is in the news but for different reasons is wicketkeeper batsman MS Dhoni. His 37-ball 49 in the second T20 against New Zealand while chasing 197 drew flak with some suggesting the team should start looking for alternatives, at least in the T20 team. While Dhoni’s place in the 50-over side seems fairly secure, such discussion about his place in the side can’t be healthy especially ahead of the 2019 World Cup. But Azharuddin believes it will be Dhoni at the World Cup in England.
“As far as I see, Dhoni will play the 2019 World Cup. If he had to give way to another player, he would have done so four or five months back. I can’t predict his mind but it appears to me he will play the 2019 World Cup. Naturally, it will be on merit. If he is performing well, he will play because he is one of the best one-day players.”
India skipper Virat Kohli came to the aid of MS Dhoni in the wake of criticism over the veteran wicket-keeper’s spot in the T20I team.
After India had earned a narrow win over New Zealand to clinch the T20 series on Tuesday, Kohli gave his views on the subject in the post-match press conference.
“I don’t understand why people are pointing him out. If I fail as a batsman three times, no one is going to point fingers at me because I am not over 35,” said the 29-year-old.
“The guy is fit, he is passing all the tests. He is contributing to the team in every tactical way on the field. With the bat, he did really well against Sri Lanka and Australia.”
“In this series, he didn’t get much time to bat. You have to understand that the position he comes in to bat, even Hardik Pandya could not score in that game so why are we pointing out one man. Hardik as well got out in the last T20 in Rajkot. You are conveniently targeting one man which is not fair.”
Criticisms had been levied at Dhoni following India’s defeat in the second T20I at Rajkot where the 36-year-old had scored a 44-ball 49.
The former World Cup winning captain’s role in the shortest format of the game has been the subject of hot discussion amongst former cricketers and TV pundits.
With the next World T20 set to take place in 2020, the decision of the selectors to persist with Dhoni has not gone down well with the former players likes of Ajit Agarkar and VVS Laxman who feel that the Ranchi man’s T20I career has run its course.