Former national selector, Saba Karim, does not see anyone who can immediately replace MS Dhoni and hence expects the limited-overs skipper to continue in his role for some more time.
However, the former India stumper says Dhoni, 35, will need to address his batting --- he consumes many more deliveries of late --- to ensure his longevity.
“Retirement is a very personal kind of thought which has to be dealt with by Dhoni only. I feel he is extremely valuable for Indian cricket,” Saba, who played 34 ODIs, told HT.” We have yet to find a decent replacement for him, his glovework is really exceptional.”
Saba, a former Bengal and Jharkhand batsman, completed his four-year term as national selector in September.
Dhoni, who gave up Test captaincy on the 2014-15 tour of Australia, has acknowledged that he can no longer play the role of finisher for which he was renowned for. After he struck a match-winning 91-ball 80 batting at No 4, Dhoni accepted he can no longer finish chases and henceforth would only look to set up the innings.
Dhoni’s honest assessment about his game may have raised many eyebrows, but Saba felt the admission is good for Indian cricket.
“Batting wise, he was the first to realise there are some areas he has to work and that is a very healthy sign for Indian cricket. If he is able to work on those areas, we’ll see a lot from Dhoni.”
Until Dhoni’s Test retirement in December 2014, no one questioned his playing ability according to the match situation or running between the wickets.
But stats show his scoring has slowed down and he is consuming more balls than he used to.
This year, the number of dot balls he consumed in the 13 ODIs he played has raised questions whether he should quit, and hand over the reins to Virat Kohli leading up to the 2019 World Cup in England.
In Sydney in January, he took 42 balls, with 16 dot balls, to score 34.
Against New Zealand at Ferozeshah Kotla, his 65-ball 39 hurt India’s winning chances as they chased. Again, the innings included 37 dot balls.
Saba is all praise for Test skipper Virat Kohli. “Virat has come on well and is extremely mature in his communication with team mates. He is able to take decisions very quickly. Also, he is focusing on his own performance as well,” he said.
“I am extremely hopeful considering the kind of thought process and vision Virat has. Indian cricket can hope for a better future.”