Fans disappointed as India’s T20 action begins sans Dhoni

Chennai: The three-match T20 cricket series between India and West Indies begins in Kolkata tomorrow. With a huge series in Australia also around the corner, the selectors chose to rest skipper Virat Kohli. Rohit Sharma will be leading the side. What makes the series more interesting and intriguing is that there is no place for Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the squad.

Millions of cricket-lovers were shocked when selectors chose to ignore Dhoni. Chief selector M S K Prasad said, “Dhoni is not going to play the six T20Is (West Indies and Australia) because we are looking at the second keeper’s slot. So, I think we will retain Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik. So, they will be getting a chance to keep and bat. It is not the end of Dhoni in T20Is.”

Even though Prasad said Dhoni will be back in the T20I squad, many experts felt that this was an indication to where Dhoni’s career was going in the Twenty20 International format.

Dhoni led the team to victory in the T20 Word Cup in 2007 and he has been making vital contributions for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) year after year. His sharp skills behind the stumps and power hitting in the last few overs will be missed this time. He still has the energy in him. One big innings will get him back in the groove, say fans in chorus.

Skipper Kohli, after the ODI series victory, crushed all talk of Dhoni’s T20 career coming to an end after he was overlooked for the T20I series against West Indies and Australia.

On Thursday, speaking at the post-match press conference regarding the issue, he said the selectors have already discussed this at length and he has nothing to add. He went on to add that Dhoni remains an integral part of the limited-overs team

“I think the selector has already explained what happened and I don’t think I need to sit here and explain it more. I wasn’t a part of that conversation but it is not what people are making out of it. I can assure you that he – Dhoni – is still a very integral part of this team and it was only about giving a chance to others. The selector felt that in T20 format, Rishabh Pant can be given a chance, Dhoni anyway plays ODIs for us regularly. It was about giving chances to a youngster and it has nothing to do with what people are thinking and I, as a captain, can certainly assure you that.”

Manikandan, a die-hard fan of Dhoni, says, “I am not going to watch the game at Chepauk on 11 November. No Dhoni, no T20 for me. Remember, he scored 455 runs in 15 matches in IPL 2018 with a strike rate above 150. He played some match-winning knocks for his side this season. He smashed 30 sixes.”

“We missed IPL action in Chepauk due to protest over Cauvery issue. We were hoping to see Dhoni back in action this time. The selectors have disappointed us by not including him in the team. He is at his best. He is agile and his hard hitting skills have not vanished. Wonder why he is not chosen. We have decided not to watch the match against Windies in Chennai on 11 November,” says Akil, a CSK fan.

M BHARAT KUMAR