The writing was on the wall and it was just a question of when. After being left out of 2018 World T20 semis against New Zealand, Mithali Raj’s future in the shortest format was numbered. She was also involved in an unwanted controversy then. She then alleged she was unfairly treated during the World T20 campaign.
Almost a year later, she has hung up her boots in the shortest format. Her decreasing strike rate in T20Is was a testimony to her failing skills with the bat to match to the demands of the shortest format. She has been part of all 4 T20Is since then for India, but she has not been the same T20I cricketer when she has first started playing this format.
Also, the rise of big hitters such as Priya Punia, Harleen Deol, and Taniya Bhatia also made Raj’s spot in T20I squad questionable.
She has perhaps seen it coming and had called it a day.
On similar lines, another cricketer is going through a similar phase and might take a cue from Raj’s career graph and call time on at least his T20I career.
MS Dhoni’s diminishing strike rate similar to Raj’s woes
He’s none other than legend MS Dhoni who too like Mithali has seen his strike rate diminish in both T20Is and ODIs in recent times. He still has the backing of skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri, but time is running out for the legend.
The rise of Rishabh Pant as a hard-hitting keeper-batsman is giving Dhoni tough time to retain his place in the limited-overs squad. Dhoni maybe still the best keeper around, but he cannot retain his place on the basis of glovework. He needs to do his bat do the talking like old times. But alas, MSD is a pale shadow of his old self.
Besides, no one seems to miss Dhoni during his unavailability for the West Indies tour. It seems India and the team have made up their mind to see Pant as the future behind the stumps.
Pant the ideal successor for MS Dhoni?
Hence, if not for ODIs, at least for T20Is, Dhoni should call time on his career and let Pant blossom in the shortest format. He may continue to play ODIs, only on current form. Otherwise, Pant is breathing down his neck.
Dhoni, who himself has voted for young and fresh players during his captaincy, has perhaps taken a U-turn and doing the opposite when his time has come to pave the way for youngsters.
By calling time on his T20I career, Dhoni will send a clear message that he no longer sees himself as the future in T20Is and is paving the way for other youngsters. Also, he may choose a farewell T20I match to retire on a high. After all, he is the first skipper to lead India in T20Is and to the only World T20 title so far.
MS Dhoni can win a few fans back if he retires from T20Is
Besides, by choosing to go Mithali’s way, he may win a few fans back as Dhoni would be then grooming another keeper to replace him permanently in the limited-overs for India. And he may get a few more ODIs or even a few series to pass on the baton to his successor.
It’s time for Dhoni to go the Mithali way.