Former captain MS Dhoni will soon be back in the Team India dugout — this time, as a mentor for the T20 World Cup.
The Indian Express has learnt that the BCCI’s announcement on Dhoni’s inclusion took some of its own office-bearers by surprise, and even the selectors came to know about it just minutes before the press conference to announce the squad for the October-November tournament in the UAE.
Sources said India’s dismal white-ball record in ICC events under captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri is one of the key factors behind the decision. The team has either fallen at the final hurdle or failed to make it to the final in the Champions Trophy, and World T20 and 50-over World Cups.
Kohli hasn’t even led Royal Challengers Bangalore to an IPL title. Dhoni, who leads Chennai Super Kings, is a three-time IPL-winning captain and has brought home three major ICC trophies — World T20, Champions Trophy and World Cup
At the media briefing Wednesday, BCCI Secretary Jay Shah said the decision to call up the 40-year-old retired international and the country’s most-celebrated white-ball cricketer was taken after he met Dhoni in Dubai, where IPL teams have started converging to complete the unfinished Covid-hit Season 12.
“He was okay with my decision and agreed to be a Team Mentor of Team India for the T20 World Cup only. I am glad that MS (Dhoni) has accepted the BCCI’s offer and he is keen to contribute to the national team once again. MS will work closely with Ravi Shastri as well as other support staff to provide support and direction to Team India,” Shah said.
Asked if Kohli and Shastri were consulted, Shah said: “I spoke to the captain and vice-captain, as well as Ravi Shastri. They all are on the same page, so that’s why this matter has reached this conclusion.”
How excited are you to see him back? 💙 pic.twitter.com/znPWBLeYNo
— BCCI (@BCCI) September 8, 2021
The BCCI is hopeful that Dhoni will help Kohli crack the white-ball code. “No one can guide this Indian team better than Dhoni. He has plenty of experience and the players trust him a lot. His presence in the dugout will help players and support staff. Jay (Shah) felt that Dhoni is the only person who can help the team during the T20 World Cup, so he dialled him,” a BCCI official said.
Besides, with Shastri’s tenure ending after the T20 World Cup, and the BCCI not keen to renew his contract, Dhoni’s appointment works as a “perfect stop-gap arrangement”. Since the BCCI wasn’t keen to appoint a new coach just before the high-intensity T20 event, sources said, they went for the “trusted old hand” who had a “cordial working relationship” with the management that’s currently in charge of the team.