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Dhoni T20I axe meant to ‘help the youngsters’, says Kohli

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

MS Dhoni was left out of the Indian T20I team for the upcoming games against West Indies and Australia – it’s the first time he has actually been dropped since becoming a regular across formats.

The decision wasn’t much of a surprise. Dhoni, a veteran of 93 T20Is, hasn’t quite been able to pull out the big shots he did almost on demand once upon a time. Even in ODIs, he’s struggled to be the expert finisher he has been for the best part of his career.

With the 50-over World Cup not too far away, Dhoni might remain a part of the team, but in T20Is, it’s time to look beyond, the selectors have indicated.

“He’s still a very integral part of this team and he just feels that in the T20 format, someone like Rishabh (Pant) can get more chances,” Kohli said at the end of the 3-1 ODI series win over the West Indies.

Rishabh Pant has so far played three ODIs and four T20Is

Rishabh Pant has so far played three ODIs and four T20Is

Pant, 21, has been a revelation in the few Test matches he has played so far – after 24, 1, 0, 18 and 5 in his first five innings, all in England, he scored 114 in the second innings at The Oval, and has since then hit 92 and 92 against the West Indies at home.

The youngster has played three ODIs and four T20Is, but hasn’t been too impressive, aggregating 114 runs from six innings.

“He (Dhoni) anyway plays the ODIs for us regularly, so, from that point of view, he’s only trying to help the youngsters; nothing that anything that other people are thinking and I as captain can certainly assure you of that.

“I think the selectors have already addressed this if I’m not wrong. And he’s been spoken to, firstly I don’t see any reason why I should be sitting here and explaining that. I think the selectors have come out and explained exactly what happened. I was not part of that conversation so … it is what the selector explained.”

His career might be on its last stretch, but at 37, Dhoni still has enough to contribute, according to many experts including Sunil Gavaskar, who said recently that “MSD is an absolute must for the 2019 World Cup”.

“There’s no doubt about it. In 50 overs, where there is that much more time, that’s when MSD comes into play,” said Gavaskar on Star Sports recently. “You know he makes those small field adjustments, talking to the bowlers in Hindi – telling them where to bowl and what to bowl. It’s a huge plus for Virat.”

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