Former India fast bowler Ajit Agarkar has questioned Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s place in the Indian team and urged the selectors to scrutinise his performance as a player as well as captain in the limited overs format.
Agarkar believed the selection committee should look at Virat Kohli’s performance as India’s Test captain and take a call on Dhoni’s future in the limited-overs cricket after the ongoing South Africa series.
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“The selectors need to have a closer look at what MS Dhoni is doing, not just as captain, but as a player as well,” Agarkar was quoted as saying by ‘ESPNcricinfo’ ahead of the five-match ODI series against South Africa.
The hosts go into the upcoming series after losing the three-match T20 rubber to South Africa under Dhoni’s captaincy.
Agarkar pointed out Dhoni’s slump in form with the willow.
“He has been a great player for India, but you don’t want him to become a liability for the team. And he needs to perform a lot better than he has (been). Just because he has done it over the years, doesn’t mean it’s okay for him to fail.”
The former pacer was also not in favour of Dhoni’s decision to bat at No 4 in the one-day format at the expense of somebody like Ajinkya Rahane.
“I’m not convinced he should bat at four. Just after a World Cup, you’re now trying to develop your team for the next World Cup. Four years is a long time, but for Dhoni, towards the end of his career, to put himself up, I’m not sure about it.
“You can understand if there are batsmen who can’t bat 3 and 4. But there is Ajinkya Rahane, who has been one of your best players in Test cricket and I don’t think he can bat lower than four in ODIs yet, unless he changes his game over his career.”
Under Dhoni, India won the inaugural World T20 in 2007, the 2011 World Cup and reached the semi-final of the 2015 edition Down Under. Besides, the team also triumphed in the 2013 Champions Trophy in 2013.
“Dhoni seems to have lost that ability of going out there and smashing it from ball one. He obviously takes his time. But he batted up the order in Bangladesh, and India still lost the series. All his career when people wanted him to bat up because he is so good and has that destructive ability, he has always maintained that he wants and needs to bat at No.6, where he can handle the pressure.”
Agarkar felt the selectors might have to make some big decisions at the end of the ODI series against South Africa.
“Looking at the results, India have generally been good in ODIs, but you’ve lost the World Cup semi-final, then you’ve lost in Bangladesh where Dhoni was captain twice, and you’ve now lost a T20 series. Yes, the T20s can go either way very quickly so you don’t want to judge someone, but for Dhoni this is a big series,” he said.
“The selectors maybe need to look at where the Indian team is heading because Virat Kohli has done well as captain in Test cricket so maybe the selectors need to make that call after this series.”