A highly talented boy from a humble middle class background from Ranchi, a Tier 2 city, unheard of ever producing an International cricketer, enduring never ending struggles of hobbling between a railways job and cricket. Life filled with ambiguity, if he would ever get an opportunity to play for the India ‘A’ team, let alone donning the coveted India Cap to eventually leading the Indian Team to the pinnacle of the sport, winning every trophy the game had on offer.
Dhonirecently became the most experienced captain in international cricket (325 matches) beating the previous record set by Ricky Ponting (324 matches) across all formats. Donning multiple caps, a shrewd captain, an astute wicket keeper, an explosive batsman and crucially, one of the World’s Best (if not the Best) and most consistent finisher for the Team, be it for India or Chennai Super Kings
It has indeed been one hell of a journey.
Dhoni, a 100% team man that he is, announced his retirement from Test cricket in Australia at the end of 2014, which itself was highly unexpected and shocking. His thought process was purely in the best interest of the Team’s future ensuring an ideal platform to groom the younger generation under ViratKohli.
If the rumor mills are to be believed, the upcoming ODI series against New Zealand later this month, might be the last forMS Dhoni as Team India Captain. Will this be his final Swansong as well?
This 35-year-old is still one of the fittest and fastest runner between the wickets and still the best keeper in the country and the only answer to the No.6 finisher’s slot in India’s limited overs scheme of things.
2017 Champions Trophy in England is fast approaching, the Indian Team Management will have their work cut out. Contemplatingthe aftermath of Dhoni era, the selectors might have to planfor hisdeputy. All-rounder that Dhoni is, Virat would take over the captaincy mantle, but there are lot of questions on who would be the keeper and who would don the finisher’s role.
For the Wicket keeper role, Saha has been earmarked and is given a consistent run in the Test format.Dinesh Karthik&Parthiv Patel have been Dhoni’sback up in the past, but have been inconsistent for the selector’s liking in the limited options they have had. NamanOjha and Sanju Samson have been making the rounds in the India ‘A’ set up. But, they are still a long way from what India is used to seeing in the form of street smart and quick glove work of MSD for over 12 years.
The Selectors, Team Management along with MS Dhoni and ViratKohli need to sit down and identify the next in line and ensure the under study to Dhoniis part of the ODI squads in the next few series. This would assure a smooth transition as and when MSD decides to hang up his gloves and it would not be as big a knee jerk reaction in terms of India’s performance on the global stage.
The most crucial element of Dhoni’s repertoire is the finisher role. The team needs to identify, if Suresh Raina is the one for this role or is there some else who can handle the finisher’s role. If so, MSD needs to move up the batting order to No. 4 or No. 5 (he mentioned this wish of his many times in the last couple of years) in the batting order and let Raina or the earmarked individual to do this role.
Dhoni, the Team man that he has always been, now needs to let go his finisher tag, bat differently in the Top of the order, anchor the innings, a change of role for him of sorts. It is one of the most difficult shoes for Raina or the nominated individual to fill. India might lose few close games in the process, some bad results going against Dhoni’s (or Kohli’s) captaincy record, but what is important is, the process will be initiated and the void will be slowly filled. If not the 2017 Champions Trophy, Team India will have a perfect and well-oiled unit by 2019 World Cup also in England.
So to answer everyone’s question, should this NZ Series be MS Dhoni’s swansong? The answer is NO.
Should the management and selectors start preparingforaftermath ofDhoni era?
The answer is YES.
When Dhonirealizes his team is ready, he would handholdgracefully but he would always remain as India’s most decorated Captain.