The COVID-19 pandemic has brought all domestic and international cricket around the world to a standstill, including the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL). As a result, several players who were looking to make a comeback in the T20 side before the World Cup backed by performances in the IPL have been left in the lurch as the future of the tournament remains in doubt. But if there is one cricketer for whom this edition of the IPL is crucial for a comeback into the national team, it is Chennai Super Kings (CSK) captain and former India captain MS Dhoni.
Dhoni, who has not played a single game since the World Cup 2019 semi-final against New Zealand, has remained tight-lipped about his future in international cricket but the team management and the selectors have made it clear that only a good IPL performance can bring him back to the senior team.
Last year, in November, Team India head coach Ravi Shastri had told IANS: “It all depends on when he starts playing and how he is playing during the IPL.”
“What are the other people doing with the wicketkeeping gloves or what is the form of those players as opposed to Dhoni’s form? The IPL becomes a massive tournament because that could be the last tournament after which more or less your 15 is decided,” the Indian coach had said.
However, former Indian cricketer, Aakash Chopra doesn’t think that Dhoni’s IPL form was going to be a “critical factor” in his selection in the team.
“For a player like Dhoni, IPL was never going to be a yardstick. If he had scored runs in the IPL, experts would have been like ‘select Dhoni’, ‘do this and do that’. MS Dhoni knows what he is doing, whether he wants to come back or not,” Chopra said in a YouTube video while responding to a query by a fan who asked- ‘what about MS Dhoni’s future if IPL 2020 gets cancelled?’
“IPL, I don’t think was a critical factor. If he wants to come back, he will make himself available, if the selectors decide to pick him, he will be picked automatically because you won’t get experience in supermarkets.
“Dhoni is a hugely experienced player. If India needs MS Dhoni, then with or without IPL, he will come back,” he said.
The 38-year-old former captain had reached Chennai a month before the tournament that was earlier scheduled to kick-off on March 29. Dhoni, along with Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay, and others were seen sweating it out at Chepauk in an attempt to reclaim the trophy but the coronavirus threat forced them to return home.
IPL’s 13th season has been suspended till April 15. A truncated IPL or a cancellation are possibilities. Cricket associations around the world have either postponed or canceled major events in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The final decision on IPL is yet to be taken.
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