MS Dhoni received some flak from former cricketers, especially VVS Laxman, following the second T20I against New Zealand on November 4. Despite scoring a solid 49 off 37 when India had already lost half their side in the chase, the likes of Laxman and Ajit Agarkar decided to criticise the former India captain, saying that it was time he gave up T20 cricket. Laxman had said it was time Dhoni gave youngsters a chance in T20 format. However, Dhoni’s former teammate and swashbuckling India opener Virender Sehwag provided the perfect counter to Laxman’s statement. Sehwag backed Dhoni and said that he would never block the way for any youngster and step down at the right time.
“Team India needs MS Dhoni at the moment, even in T20 cricket. He will step down at the right time. He will never block the way for any young cricketer,” the big-hitting opener said.
Sehwag had earlier said that the Indian team was “yet to find a suitable replacement” for Dhoni.
Despite the increasing criticism on MS Dhoni’s dwindling form in recent times, legendary Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar too has backed the 36-year old to continue playing in T20Is. Defending the wicket-keeper batsman’s struggles in the shortest format of the game, the former captain insisted that the seasoned campaigner gets unnecessary disapproval due to his advancing age even as under-whelming performances from youngsters like Hardik Pandya are being swept under the carpet.
Gavaskar told, “When somebody reaches an age beyond 30, then I think all of us are looking to find fault with that over-30 person every time. We actually hasten somebody’s retirement from the game by demanding too much of the person. We do not look at the guys under 30 who actually haven’t done anything but we tend to sort of overlook that. So, we will not look at the failure of others in the same innings. Hardik Pandya getting out for one by not picking up a googly, we will not look at that. We will not look at the fact that openers did not give the usual start. We will only point a finger at MS Dhoni. So that is unfortunate (and) that is India for you.”
Chasing 197 for a win in Rajkot, Dhoni came into bat with 67 for four in 9.1 overs. Despite Virat Kohli going great guns at the other end, India didn’t have too much batting left after Dhoni. The likes of Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah were the players left.
Dhoni made a slow start and failed to rotate the strike as regularly as some of the experts would have liked. During his stay in the middle, Dhoni scored 26 runs in boundaries from five deliveries (3×6, 2×4) but managed only 23 from the remaining 32 deliveries.
India lost Kohli in the 17th over with the score on 123 and Dhoni departed in the final over as India fell short by 40 runs.
India play the series-decider on Tuesday and certainly Dhoni’s batting position will be under spotlight as the home team aims to go for the kill at Thiruvananthapuram.