Finally, an end that everyone saw coming?
The BCCI has made its move. Will the greatest Indian captain make his now?
A move made, finally. Almost 200 days of no-show, several contradictory statements and massive speculation, the BCCI dropped a bomb today when it decided to drop former Indian skipper MS Dhoni from their latest annual contract list for the period of October 2019 to September 2020. Although it doesn’t exactly mean that Dhoni will never be seen donning the India colors again, the chance of it happening does seem even bleaker after today.
As much as one wishes that it was a graceful one, it's clearly not the exit that the career of a great like Dhoni deserved. For once though, it's not entirely the board that is at fault, as has generally been the case in the past with illustrious names and unceremonious exits.
Although it's difficult to guess what exactly transpired post the World Cup, the series of events indicates that there has been little communication between the former skipper and the selectors. Whenever posed with questions over Dhoni's future, the replies have never been convincing. Moreover, they have never been coherent either.
In October, MSK Prasad chose to give a stern response to the question when he said, “With Rishabh Pant doing so well and Sanju Samson coming into the side, I am sure, you must be understanding our thought process.” Notwithstanding the fact that neither have exactly excelled in whatever opportunities they've got, it seemed clear that MS Dhoni was history, at least in the minds of the men who matter.
But then, a month later, head coach Ravi Shastri stoked the fire again saying that the keeper-batsman can make his way back into the team for the T20 World Cup scheduled to be held later this year post a strong performance in IPL 2020.
In between those two, there was the BCCI President Sourav Ganguly adding to the confusion on the matter with his comment 'Champions don't finish quickly' when asked about Dhoni's retirement. The more problematic statement, however, was that "he surely must have communicated to his captain."
The doublespeak and particularly Ganguly's that statement reeked of a lack of clarity. No one seemed to exactly know what was on Dhoni's mind, something that was pretty much the man's USP when he used to be the skipper.
Before more details emerge about what all transpired behind the scenes in the last eight months, cricket fans across the country can only speculate. While there was little doubt about Dhoni's future in the long run, what would have made the scenario a more pleasant one than the way it's panned out is something coming from the man himself - either a declaration of retirement or a desire to return to the national side.
If Dhoni had made up his mind about retiring post the World Cup in England last year, him making himself unavailable for selection till November doesn't make any sense. If that's to be believed then his dropping from the list of centrally contracted player means that he's been pushed out of the scene in a manner not befitting for a man who has won the country three ICC tournaments.
The other side to the speculation is that Dhoni's making himself unavailable gave the impression of a certain sense of complacency that's not usually associated with the cricketer. Not taking things for granted was the hallmark of Dhoni the cricketer and that's why to speculate he decided to go on a long vacation believing that he'll be chosen on his return irrespective of factors like his form and his replacement's performances is hard to digest.
As far fetched as it might seem, the Dhoni and the BCCI story reminds me of my two of my friends who were in love with each other before a fight resulted in them not talking to each other. Both of them waited for the other to call and make truce but neither did it and dragged the matters on. Eventually, one of them decided to delete the other's contact number from the phone to call it quits officially.
Having said that, there's no one better than Dhoni who knows how to script a comeback from positions where lesser mortals would take the writing on the wall lying down.
With Rishabh Pant showing very little to no improvement in his limited-overs career, MS Dhoni could make a strong case for himself for a ticket to Australia based on his performances in the upcoming season of Indian Premier League. However, one would also do better to understand that a well-performing MS Dhoni for Chennai Super Kings doesn't always translate to an equally well-performing batsman when he turns out for team India, something that came to fore even in the World Cup that happened post the 2019 IPL. Moreover, the presence of the shadow of Dhoni lurking around might have led to Pant’s stunted growth in the blue jersey. If anything, this move should make the Delhi left-hander a little more sure of his place in the side and provide him the much-needed confidence to begin delivering with the bat more frequently.
As far as Dhoni is concerned, the man has never been a big fan of grandeur and might just be satisfied with all that he has achieved in his illustrious career.