India resume international cricket with an eye on the future

first_imgSo, here we are finally. After the long, long T20 season, India are set to play one-day cricket again. It looks like a lifetime ago when Mahendra Singh Dhoni led a full-strength squad to Australia (it really was January). Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were unstoppable but so were the Australians, who ran India down to win the series 4-1. (Also read: Mahendra Singh Dhoni sidesteps captaincy debate ahead of Zimbabwe tour)Teams around the world got busy with the World T20 and India left no stone unturned; they ended up playing 11 T20 Internationals, winning 10 of them before the mega event at home. They played five more in the World T20 before the Indian Premier League commenced in the hot months of April and May.Some of the top stars have been given well-deserved breaks.  Kohli, who has been in Bradmanesque touch, Rohit, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and other big names are not in Zimbabwe for the three ODIs, the first of which will be played tomorrow in Harare. The ODi series will be followed soon after by a three-match T20 series. (Also read: Dhoni gives youngsters fantastic opportunities to shine, says Bangar)OPPORTUNITY TO LOOK AT THE FUTURE This then, is an opportunity for India to have a look at their future. World champions in 2011, Champions Trophy winners in 2013 and semifinalists in the 2015 World Cup, India’s ODI fortunes have taken a dip over the last year.Successive losses to Bangladesh, South Africa and Australia have had a telling blow on Dhoni. His captaincy is on the line, with voices to replace him with Kohli in the shorter formats getting louder everyday. (Also read: New coach must understand Indian culture, says MS Dhoni) advertisementThis series is as important for the newbies in the side as it is for Dhoni, the old war-horse who has overseen and scripted some of the most glorious moments in India’s cricketing folklore.SPOTLIGHT ON DHONI Dhoni has found runs hard to come by and his decisions on the field have hardly yielded the results he has desired. India pulled through to the semi-finals of the World T20, only thanks to Kohli’s brilliance and even that wasn’t enough as Lendl Simmons fired the West Indies to an inspirational victory.Dhoni came undone in the IPL too – he failed to get Pune Supergiants through to the playoffs and his own form with the bat was appalling. Meanwhile, Kohli kept hammering records and almost single-handedly took Royal Challengers Bangalore to the finals.Indian cricket’s future is at stake here. Some of the youngsters, who are touring now, may not get another chance to play for India in a long, long time. But the series could yet give Dhoni some time to breathe. He is touring Zimbabwe for the first time in 11 years and that tells a whole story. Rumour has it that the selectors asked Dhoni if he would like to tour and the Indian captain is understood to have said yes immediately.In the past, Suresh Raina, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane were named captains of young, inexperienced sqauds. Now all three will take some time off as Dhoni goes through the grind of having to prove himself all over again, against the minnows of world cricket.UNDER-FIRE DHONI It is not an easy time to be MS Dhoni. Former team director Ravi Shastri and a strong contender for India’s next coach, said Dhoni should play under Kohli in limited-overs cricket. Former India captain Sourav Ganguly said the selectors should take a decision on Dhoni’s future with the 2019 World Cup in mind.Many have wondered whether Dhoni is actually thinking of playing the next World Cup. But no one really knows what goes on inside that mind of his. The decision to retire from Test cricket was sudden and shocking. But the charismatic captain has clearly decided to fight on in the shorter formats; the fact that he is in Zimbabwe with a second string squad is ample proof that Dhoni will not bow out without a fight.Dhoni has to prove himself all over again by scoring big, winning big and pulling off some stunners behind the wicket.No one knows what the future holds yet. No one knows when Kohli will be named captain of the ODI side. But the fact that Dhoni still feels he has the stomach for one last fight is great news for Indian cricket.last_img

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