MS Dhoni’s recent form has been in the spotlight after India’s 2-1 defeat to England in the ODI series. The veteran wicketkeeper-batsman’s display generated strong criticism from former players and his decision to collect the match-ball from the umpire after the deciding ODI at Headingley had sparked speculation about a possible retirement.
However, Dhoni’s former team-mate and India legend Sachin Tendulkar has said that the Ranchi-born man would be the best-placed to take a call on his retirement.
“I know people are talking about a lot of things… I have read Mr (Sunil) Gavaskar’s statement and seen Sourav’s (Ganguly) remark that Dhoni needs to do more. But if you speak to MS himself, he would also say that it has not been up to his expectations,” Tendulkar told the Mumbai Mirror in an interview.
“The player only has to take the call. A player of his calibre, who has been around for a long time, knows what is expected of him. And where he stands. So, I will leave the decision to him,” he continued.
Dhoni was booed by some sections of the crowd at Lord’s in the second ODI at Lord’s during his painstakingly slow knock of 42 in 69 balls as India went on to lose the match.
Virat Kohli’s men will now lock horns with the hosts in a five-match Test series that gets underway at Edgbaston on August 1. Tendulkar believes respecting the conditions will be the key for the visitors.
“The first basic rule (of an overseas tour): Respect conditions. It’s the key. The first morning of the series, the first over, the first spell – it’s always the key. It was the same in South Africa, it will be the same in England,” he added.
There were contrasting reports with regards to the Bengal player’s injury and the BCCI sought to clear some of that confusion through a bulletin it issued on Saturday.
According to the bulletin, Saha has suffered a relapse of a shoulder injury he first reported to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) physios in January this year. The wicketkeeper then sustained a hamstring injury in the tour of South Africa where he was ruled out of the third Test.
Transparent BCCI issues timeline of Wriddhiman Saha’s injury. Almost six months after the injury occurred https://t.co/xNNDzn1bJC— Amol Karhadkar (@karhacter) July 21, 2018
Saha reported back to the NCA where a posterosuperior labral tear was detected on his right shoulder. He underwent a rehabilitation programme at the NCA before being cleared to participate in the IPL. The wicketkeeper is said to have aggravated his shoulder injury while playing for the Sunrisers before also fracturing him thumb in the second Qualifier against Kolkata Knight Riders.
This ruled out the 33-year-old for the one-off Test against Afghanistan. Now, he is set for a length period of absence with a shoulder surgery being required to treat the injury.
The BCCI has said that Saha will travel to Manchester at the end or early August for the shoulder surgery. The wicketkeeper was not picked in the 18-man India squad for the first three Tests against England with Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant making the cut in his absence.
The first Test between England and India at Edgbaston is a little more than a week away and the visitors have their task cut out to assemble a pace attack given the spate of recent injuries to key players.
Bumrah injured his thumb in the final T20 against Ireland and is facing a race against time to get himself fit for the first Test. The Mumbai pacer, in all likelihood, is expected to miss the first Test with his participation in the second still up in the air.
Bhuvneshwar meanwhile, has flown back to India to recuperate after not being named in the squad for the first three Tests and is a doubt for the remainder of the series as well after aggravating a lower back injury in the final ODI against England.
The injuries to two pacers who were a certainty to form a part of India’s bowling attack in the five-match series has severely depleted the options at Kohli’s disposal.
India will have to bank on a pace attack comprising of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami at the start of the series if Bumrah is unable to recover on time. Mumbai pacer Shardul Thakur has been named in the squad too but India will only want to turn to him as a last resort given his inexperience.
In Ishant, India have an excellent work-horse who has performed decently on previous tour of England. His promising stint with Sussex in the County Championship should also hold him in good stead ahead of the series.
However, expecting Ishant to be the strike-bowler will be wishful thinking on India’s part with the pacer more suited as the first-change option in the pace department.
That means the onus on providing the wickets with the new ball will fall on the shoulders of Umesh and Shami. The former has not played Test cricket previously on English shores while the latter endured a disappointing time during the 2014 tour.
Shami picked up only five wickets in the three Tests he played in 2014 at an average of nearly 73 and a strike-rate greater than 115. On top of that, the pacer is coming back into the team on the back of struggles with fitness as well as controversies in his personal life.
The 27-year-old missed the one-off Test against Afghanistan due to his failure to clear the Yo-Yo fitness test but such is India’s desperation in the pace department currently that Shami will probably be the first name of on the team sheet for the first Test.
Umesh, on the other hand, did well in the Afghanistan Test but he has not been a regular in India’s Test setup in recent times. The Delhi pacer did not feature in a single Test in India’s tour of South Africa earlier this year with Shami, Bumrah, Ishant and Bhuvneshwar forming the attack.
Quite simply, India will be running on bare reserves when it comes to fast-bowling in the Test series and another injury in that department could prove catastrophic for Kohli and his men.
They will desperately be hoping that Shami can hit his stride immediately after his long lay-off and for Umesh to bring his more consistent self rather than the occasionally wayward and frustrating bowler he can be at times. Failing that, it could be a long and disappointing English summer for the visitors.