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Why ‘cult’ of MS Dhoni is making Indian cricket a ‘loser’

Sanjay Manjrekar, the former India batsman turned commentator, has said the ‘cult’ of MS Dhoni seems to be coming in the way of clarity and honest discussion of the Indian cricket team selection but has argued that the former skipper presents

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Nov 21, 2017 19:38 IST
Devarchit Varma
Devarchit Varma
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
India vs Sri Lanka,Mahendra Singh Dhoni,Indian national cricket team
MS Dhoni’s future in Twenty20 Internationals has been doing rounds since the match against New Zealand, when he failed to win a game for India despite scoring a 37-ball 49 in the second match at Rajkot.(REUTERS)

Sanjay Manjrekar, former India batsman turned commentator, says the ‘cult’ of MS Dhoni is coming in way of ‘clarity’ and ‘honest discussion’ in team selection, adding that in such a scenario Indian cricket stands to ‘lose’ out.

The topic of Dhoni’s future has been doing rounds since the T20I series against New Zealand, when he failed to win a game for India despite scoring a 37-ball 49 in the second match at Rajkot.

Manjrekar wrote in ESPNCricinfo, “We are not quite there yet, but like it was with Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar, the cult of Mahendra Singh Dhoni seems to be coming in the way of clarity and honest discussion of team selection. It’s in our DNA in India, isn’t it?”

“All this fanfare and worship is perhaps all right from a distance, but when they start influencing cricketing decisions, especially selection, it becomes a matter of concern,” wrote Manjrekar, citing examples of how the legendary cricketers like Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar struggled too in their final days as India cricketers but no one could talk about dropping them.

“Indian cricket is the loser when such things happen. This is a different age and I would have hoped that we had evolved from the Kapil and Tendulkar days,” Manjrekar opined.

Also citing how well Australia handles its champion cricketers, Manjrekar said reputation of a player should never ‘be a factor in selection’.

‘Forget opinions, look at numbers’

However, Manjrekar pointed out Dhoni’s recent records arguing that the wicketkeeper-batsman presents a strong case.

Acknowledging that Dhoni still presents stronger case than Tendulkar of his final days in selection, Manjrekar wrote, “Well, when it gets tricky, forget opinions, look at numbers. Inspect Dhoni’s recent record. What does it tell you? Let’s look at his last 25 innings in ODIs and last ten in T20Is. (Just ten T20Is because not enough T20 internationals are played.)”

Manjrekar highlighted Dhoni’s recent performances and wrote, “In the last 25 ODIs Dhoni averages 56.75 and his strike rate is 81.94. In his last ten T20Is Dhoni averages 33.80 and his strike rate is 131.01. Deeper scrutiny of these numbers and clinical observation of his performance on the field would reveal that he is not the game changer as often as he was in the past,” he wrote.

“But the only change I see in his batting is that where earlier he could tonk four sixes off six balls at will, now he can hit only one. He now has to rely more on others to win games. But again I make the same point: any new young player with Dhoni’s recent numbers would be an automatic pick,” Manjrekar added.

First Published: Nov 21, 2017 13:24 IST