With the ICC World Cup 2019 in view, it is time for the BCCI to react and react swiftly. The most nerve-wracking question surrounding Indian cricket these days is regarding MS Dhoni’s availability for the 2019 World Cup. Dhoni himself said post the 2015 World Cup that he will take the all important call on his career post the completion of the 2016 T20 World Cup. But then, things do not always go as planned either!
Post the 2015 World Cup, the Indian side had to witness some mixed results and there remains minimal clarity as a result. India’s first international assignment post the 2015 World Cup was a tour of Bangladesh, comprising of one Test and three ODIs. Rain marred the five day fixture and it was time for the ODIs to commence. This was where the Indians got the shock of their lives! The Bangladeshis, backed by their crowd defeated the Indians 2-1 in a three-match series. Plenty of questions were raised in India regarding the ability and the willpower of the team.
Some called the series loss to Bangladesh even worse than the shameful exit of the 2007 World Cup. Out of the blue, cricketing pundits in India began blaming MS Dhoni for the side’s misery. Despite being India’s best batsman during the ODI series, Dhoni had to face some sharp criticism. The criticism was mainly for his captaincy, which according to some lacked the spice. In an emotional press conference, Dhoni volunteered to step aside as the captain.
Following the tour to Bangladesh was a limited overs tour of Zimbabwe, in which the Ajinkya Rahane led unit excelled without much of a fuss. But India’s best performance of the year as a unit was yet to come, against the Sri Lankans in their own den. After being humiliated in Galle, the Virat Kohli led side bounced in the remaining two Test matches to lift the series 2-1. Kohli’s dynamic and ever energetic leadership stood out for India as he led the side with the hunger to win overseas. It was this display of charisma which has put the BCCI in a tizzy!
With the ODIs against South Africa barely a month away, rumors began drifting in the media that MS Dhoni was likely to be sidelined as the skipper of the ODI side. Dhoni would remain the skipper of the T20I side at least till the World T20 next year. This has sent shockwaves as MS Dhoni’s decreasing clout within the BCCI surely indicates a lot.
But does sidelining Dhoni as the skipper of the ODI side make sense? Well, the answer to that depends mainly upon Dhoni himself. If Dhoni is not keen on playing the 2019 World Cup, then Virat Kohli must be handed over the reins of the ODI side at the soonest. But what if Dhoni is indeed willing to play the 2019 World Cup? What does then happen? Who leads the side in such a tricky scenario?
The answer to that question depends on Virat Kohli! There are a few reasons which prompt Kohli’s promotion to the ODI captaincy slot. Firstly, Kohli leads India in Test matches, and his strategy in the whites is crystal clear indeed! Aggression is Kohli’s main weapon in leading India to glory. Kohli is that leader who backs the pacers to a great extent and has his own set of trusted individuals which is something profusely contradicting to Dhoni’s style! Dhoni, in ODI’s remains on the moderate side and never gets too aggressive. But one negative aspect about Dhoni the leader could be that he doesn’t trust his pacers. Dhoni, in the past, has openly criticized his pacers in the media for letting the side down.
With Kohli in Tests rely on pacers, and Dhoni on the other hand questions them, there is bound to be a serious clash of two highly contrasting ideologies! Due to this clash, it will be the players who will suffer the most as they will remain in two minds regarding their captain’s approach for the game. An extremely aggressive leader in one format and an equally defensive captain in another format is possibly the worst thing that can get for a side. Thereby, it becomes integral that Kohli takes over the ODI arena as well.
Another factor which aids Kohli’s elevation to the ODI captaincy is that India now will begin a new season and will play mainly at home. This will give Kohli the time to adjust efficiently to the ODI captaincy as well.
MS Dhoni, though, must continue to feature as the wicketkeeper-batsman. Dhoni, is India’s best bet at number 4, a number where the Indians have struggled since quite some time now. Even if Dhoni features in the ODI side just as a player, there need to be absolutely no worries. Dhoni began his career under Sourav Ganguly and as a pure wicketkeeper batsman achieved tremendous success. Dhoni, even on current form is by far India’s best wicketkeeper batsman.
By the time the 2019 World Cup arrives, Dhoni will be almost 38 years old (late 37 to be precise). Kumar Sangakkara, who recently retired, featured in the Sri Lankan side of the 2015 World Cup when he was 37 years old. The question here is very simple indeed – If Sangakkara can play ODI’s till 37 years of age, then why can’t Dhoni? And yes, Dhoni also does not play test matches! Considering that fact, one can make out that Dhoni can easily feature in the 2019 World Cup.
As a matter of fact, Dhoni in the 2019 World Cup as a pure wicketkeeper-batsman at number 4 will be the best possible thing for India. The Indian top and middle order can revolve around Dhoni, and Dhoni being the beast he is, can change gears rapidly to boost India’s chances. Without the burden of captaincy, one can expect Dhoni to excel further, which will greatly affect team India. As a non-captain, Dhoni has a fine average of 44.23 with the bat, with a strike rate of 96.26, as opposed to his career strike rate of 86.31.
Well, how effective will Dhoni be under the leadership of Virat Kohli? Very effective indeed! It surely is the time to promote Virat Kohli as the skipper of the ODI team.