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October 29 2018

Is This The End For MS Dhoni In T20 Internationals?

- by Benny Thompson

MS Dhoni – the man who led India to glory in the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007 – has been dropped from the squads for the upcoming T20I series against West Indies and Australia. So is this the end of MSD for India in the shortest format of the game?

For starters, yes. This is not a case of resting a star performer in a low key series. While India may not require his services in the home series against the Windies, India would definitely require the strongest squad possible for the tour of Australia. So for a player who is match fit and hasn’t played enough matches, this is not a break, this is most definitely the end.

The main reason for this is that the next World Twenty20 to be held in Australia is almost two years away and Dhoni who is already 37 is unlikely to be around then. With Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant waiting on the sidelines, the selectors’ decision has been made keeping India’s long term future in mind.

Karthik made his ODI debut three months before Dhoni in 2004 but has struggled for chances with the latter taking centre stage and then the captain’s armband. But in the 8 T20Is he has played this year, he averages 49. Pant is just 21 but has impressed in the IPL as well as Test cricket. His wide variety of shots and ability to carve his innings according to the situation makes him a likely successor.

While all this is reassuring and bodes well for India, it is a sad reality that the great captain who sparked the change in fortunes of Team India will no longer play in the format that set him on the path to greatness. But looking beyond his captaincy that led to the World T20 success, he has hardly been as impactful in T20 internationals as he has in IPL.

With 3 IPL titles, 4 runners up finishes and 2 Champions League T20 titles, Dhoni has been a rage in the IPL. He is also a proven match winner with a number of match winning performances and last gasp sixes for CSK. But the same does not apply when he is playing T20s for India.

In 131 innings for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, Dhoni has 3442 runs at an average of 41.97 and a strike rate of 140.71. He has 18 fifties and has hit 242 boundaries and 156 sixes. For India, in 80 T20I innings, he has 1487 runs at an average of 37.17 and a strike rate of 127.09. He has just 2 fifties and has hit only 107 boundaries and 47 sixes in T20Is.

These numbers don’t add up as his T20 performances for India don’t match his superhuman approach for CSK. He has just 16 scores above 30 for India which means that in 64 innings, he hasn’t scored the 30 run mark. Despite the fact that he has played most of these matches at No. 5 or 6, this is still a poor return.

Of the 33 batsmen who have scored 300+ T20I runs playing at No. 5 or 6 since Dhoni’s debut in 2006, he ranks 23rd in terms of average and 27th in terms of strike rate. In terms of boundaries per innings, he is at 21 and when it comes to sixes per innings, he is 30th. Hardly the stats of the T20 juggernaut we are used to!

All these numbers are a far cry from the consistent match winner he has been for CSK which means that India will not miss him as much as we think. Besides at 37, he is only getting older and his scoring rate has admittedly dropped in recent times.

And if all these stats are unconvincing, here is one fact that will make you think again. In 80 T20 innings for India, Dhoni has never won a Man of the Match award. So, keeping the future in mind, the Indian selectors did the right thing by leaving Dhoni out.

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