India had to get the services of K.L. Rahul, who is not a specialist wicketkeeper, to keep wickets in the T20 series against New Zealand. Why should a professional side like the Indian team have to resort to a non-specialist to do the job?
From a practical perspective, let’s keep aside the hero-worship for former captain and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and think purely from the team’s point of view. Rishabh Pant, who is set to be the future wicketkeeper, had been inconsistent and hence had to be benched. Dhoni, despite his age, has not yet failed as a wicketkeeper and it is a known fact that he is still the best; but mysteriously, he has not made himself available!
No one can deny that Dhoni has done a lot for Indian cricket, but strangely the selectors have no clue whether he will play again. India needs a good wicketkeeper behind the wicket. If Rahul drops a catch or fails to pull off a stumping at a crucial stage of the match, the blame will fall on the Indian team management.
If Dhoni has the desire to ensure India keep on performing well overseas, he should play and not keep himself busy moving with the Jharkhand Chief Minister to inaugurate a facility in the Jharkhand Cricket Association stadium when the Indian team is both apprehensive about Rahul and worried about Pant.
No Indian cricketer has ever kept selectors guessing like what Dhoni is doing, and he is yet to talk on whether he will take up a role assigned to him in the team. If Pant’s form continues to fluctuate, then Sanju Samson should be tried out as the wicketkeeper. He was picked and dropped a couple of times and hardly given chances like Pant. If Dhoni, as many believe, is likely to keep wickets in the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia in October, he should have made himself available for the New Zealand tour.
Frankly, it is incomprehensible why a great player like Dhoni is putting himself up with negative reports about him. Almost all Indian dailies and television channels had reported that he has been dropped from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) annual contract. Some even started to talk of India looking beyond Dhoni. It is natural that when any cricketer or an employee of an organisation fails to turn up for his job, he cannot expect to remain in the pay list.
The question is: why is Dhoni keeping himself away? Is it because of differences with captain Virat Kohli or coach Ravi Shastri or the selectors or has he had enough and wants to rest?
Everyone, including Dhoni’s fans, will admit that one of the few areas where Team India look unsettled is that of the wicketkeeper in white ball cricket. Who is responsible for this is anybody’s guess!