Is it time to give India skipper MS Dhoni a break, Champions League notwithstanding? MiD DAY opens up a debate
India's seemingly never-ending tour of England is about to end and some of the exhausted players like Praveen Kumar can expect a bit of relief. However, skipper MS Dhoni -- the one player who needs it the most -- isn't that lucky. He will lead Chennai Super Kings in the Champions League Twenty20 next Saturday.
All through the tour of UK, observers have opined that Dhoni was struggling with his glove work because of his hurt/sore fingers. In an ideal world, Dhoni would have loved a rest of at least two weeks after a strenuous tour. Unfortunately, that's not to be.
Former India wicketkeeper Kiran More and chief selector, who picked Dhoni in the national squad after watching him in action during a Deodhar Trophy game in Bhubaneswar in 2003, and later the Duleep Trophy final in 2004, is concerned. "I think BCCI should take a call on this. Someone like Shashank Manohar (outgoing President) and K Srikkanth (chief selector) must take a call on Dhoni's behalf as he is in a catch-22 situation. All the Aussies don't play Big Bash (Australia's domestic T20 event). ECB has a central contract policy and you don't see their players being exhausted by too much cricket," he said.
Former dashing opener and wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer, who followed India for most part of the ongoing England tour, has an entirely different take. "It (the decision to rest or not) should come from Dhoni. If he's tired, he can make a request to the Board. In any case, a little break will not harm his cricket. There is talk of his sore fingers, tired mind, and body, but I believe he should take a call for the betterment of his own career," he said.
Former India wicketkeeper Saba Karim, who has seen Dhoni since his formative days for Bihar/Jharkhand /East Zone, sympathises with the Indian captain: "It is impractical to think that Dhoni will ask for a break, or that BCCI or selectors will spare him, in the Indian team's interest.
"Since franchises invest so much money on a star player, they rightly expect him to play in the IPL/CLT20. Besides, it's BCCI's tournament, and neither the secretary, nor chief selector can unilaterally decide to rest a key India player. In the absence of Virender Sehwag and likely absence of Sachin Tendulkar, who would speak about giving the Indian captain a break in CLT20 which is yet to take off in a real sense even after two seasons?"
Karim argues that the core issue is not about the injuries of Dhoni or Tendulkar, but the larger interest of Indian cricket. He signed off while suggesting that perhaps the time has come for Dhoni to give up India's T20 captaincy. The idea may strike many.
Dhoni's workload since World Cup
* 16 T20 matches for CSK in IPL Season-4
* Three Tests in West Indies
* Four Tests in England
* Two first-class matches in England, few List A games
* One-off T20I in England
* Five ODIs in England
What's to follow?
* CLT20 (minimum four matches + possibly two)
* England's tour of India -- five ODIs, one T20I
* West Indies tour of India -- three Tests, five ODIs
* Tour of Australia -- four Tests, two T20Is, eight ODIs
* India vs Pakistan -- three Tests, five ODIs, one T20I
* Indian Premier League 2012
MSD pulled out of...
* 2008 Test series vs Sri Lanka (wasn't skipper then)
* 2010 triangular series in Zimbabwe (Zim, Ind, SL)
* 5-match ODI series vs New Zealand in 2010
* Limited-overs leg of West Indies tour (post IPL)
58 The number of days Dhoni has been on the park since the World Cup win on April 2