MS Dhoni's statement on Monday may not be in response to Sachin Tendulkar's on Saturday, but Indian cricket's most celebrated player and most successful captain don't seem to be on the same page. While Tendulkar has urged to "ignore the scorebook" in selection matters, Dhoni feels "form matters" in order to stay in the Indian team.
It may be absolutely unintentional on Dhoni's part, but his statement is in stark contrast with the views Tendulkar holds on team selection. Tendulkar threw his weight behind players who have the talent and should be given time even if they aren't consistent, but Dhoni held that form and fitness are the two boxes players must tick to live their India dreams.
"Selection is not about looking at the scorebook ... Even if he [a player] fails in a few matches, one needs to see if he has the ability to withstand pressure and execute at the international level," said Tendulkar at the Karnataka State Cricket Association's Platinum Jubilee celebrations. But Dhoni doesn't seem to entirely concur with that.
Age, said Dhoni, can be overlooked but not form and fitness. "I don't think age is a factor. What matters is form and fitness and not age," Dhoni said referring to whether axed seniors Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh can play for India again.
And Dhoni's statement puts the approach of Sandeep Patil-led selection panel into perspective. The selectors went ahead and dialysed the team with fresh blood in place of the out-of-form, half-fit players. It resulted in India mauling Australia 4-0 at home and then going on to win the ICC Champions Trophy in England and the tri-series in West Indies. That followed India A's tri-series win in South Africa, the country India's Test side will be touring in three months' time.
In that light, Dhoni's words make more sense than Tendulkar's, who has struggled to stay consistent in the last couple of years of his glittering career.