'If MS Dhoni says he wants to play T20 World Cup…': Agarkar poked with 'wildcard' surprise before India squad selection | Crickit

'If MS Dhoni says he wants to play T20 World Cup…': Agarkar poked with 'wildcard' surprise before India squad selection

Apr 24, 2024 02:34 PM IST

A couple of former Indian international cricketers feel MS Dhoni coming out of retirement to play the T20 World Cup may not be that bad a decision for India.

Among all the Indian wicketkeeper batters that are knocking on the doors of selectors – Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, KL Rahul, even Dinesh Karthik – another name can apparently join the list. The boss, MS Dhoni. Yes, he is retired, done with cricket and has only turned up to play the IPL once a year – since 2022. But even at 42, Dhoni is striking the ball as cleanly as he used to during his pomp.

Will MS Dhoni give Ajit Agarkar a surprise? (Getty-AFP)
Will MS Dhoni give Ajit Agarkar a surprise? (Getty-AFP)

This year alone, Dhoni has delivered more than what's been asked of him. Yet to be dismissed, in five innings, Dhoni has scored 91 off 35 balls at a mind-boggling strike rate of 260. Batting lower, Dhoni has dished out one cameo after the other, clearly depicting that not only has MSD brought back his long locks, but also his power-hitting abilities that shot him to limelight 20 years ago.

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So here's an idea floated by former India cricketers Irfan Pathan and Varun Aaron. What if, through some hocus pocus, Dhoni is included in India's T20 World Cup squad? Would you like it. It's been almost five years since Dhoni played his last match for India – the semifinal of the 2019 World Cup, but Aaron and Pathan won't mind seeing a bit of Dhoni magic in the USA and West Indies.

"We could see a wildcard entry in India's T20 World Cup squad… MS Dhoni," Aaron told Star Sports. "Actually, it's the wildest card." That is when Pathan chipped in and echoed the sentiments of a million Indian cricket fans. "If he says he wants to play the T20 World Cup, no one will deny him that chance. It may not happen, but no one will mind, no one will have a problem with it. The guy is batting so well."

MS Dhoni's role in a hypothetical world

Ambitions aside, Dhoni won't. Of course, he wouldn't. It's time for the youngsters to shine through, and Dhoni knows what it's like to win the T20 World Cup with a young brigade. But come to think of it, in a hypothetical scenario, would it be a bad decision though? India's first four matches are against Ireland, Pakistan, USA and Canada, out of which Dhoni may be required to bat only once – against Pakistan. And if India progress, Dhoni may have to bat thrice more – against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. As for the remaining games, if picked, Dhoni would have to keep, something he's already doing in the IPL 2024.

"MS Dhoni has a strike-rate of over 250 and doesn't have an average because he hasn't been dismissed yet. He has hit 87 runs in 34 balls (Prior to the game against LSG last evening) this season. The kind of schedule we have for the T20 World Cup, how many good teams will we be playing against? He won't get to bat in the first round. Who better than him?" former India opener Virender Sehwag had said on Cricbuzz.

Dhoni knows all that there is to know about winning World Cups and ICC Trophies. The only captain in history to win all three leading ICC titles – the T20 World Cup, ODI World Cup and Champions Trophy – Dhoni has done it all. Having played six World Cups across ODIs and T20Is, Dhoni's last involvement with the Indian team at the World Cup was in 2021 – when he served as the team's mentor. However, it didn't turn out too well as India crashed out of the tournament in the first round itself. In Virat Kohli's final series as India's T20I captain and Ravi Shastri's last assignment as head coach, India lost to Pakistan and New Zealand in the first two games, and never recovered.

There's been no shortage of excitement with Dhoni around. His unbeaten 37 off 16 balls against Delhi Capitals where he launched Anrich Nortje for four sixes in the last over didn't win CSK the game but gave their fans plenty of reasons to cheer. Against Mumbai Indians, Dhoni smoked Hardik Pandya for a hat-trick of sixes in the last over to score 20 off 4. As it turned out, CSK took the game by 20 runs, with Dhoni's cameo making the difference. Going by such red-hot form, even Rohit Sharma was asked about the probability of Dhoni playing the T20 World Cup, where he revealed it will be tough to talk MSD into taking a U-turn.

"It will be hard to convince MS, although he is coming to the US, to do something else. He is into golf now," Rohit had said.

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