Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) are on the brink of elimination in their Indian Premier League (IPL) debut. If and when it happens, questions are likely to be raised over the captaincy and batting form of MS Dhoni.
The Sanjeev Goenka-owned franchise unequivocally chose Dhoni as their first pick of the IPL Draft involving 10 players from the suspended Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals franchises made available to debutants RPS and Gujarat Lions.
But after 10 matches, Dhoni-led Pune have won only three games, which leaves them just a defeat away from elimination. Couple that with Dhoni’s unimpressive form with the bat (182 runs in 9 innings), the Pune fans will be disappointed with the man who they looked up to on the city’s return to IPL.
And the man who knows more than a thing or two about captaincy has also raised doubts over Dhoni’s future as India captain.
Talking to India Today, former India captain Sourav Ganguly said the national selectors need to plan keeping the 2019 World Cup and 2020 World Twenty20 in mind and ask themselves if they see Dhoni as captain at that point.
“My point is more than what Dhoni’s form is in the IPL or Dhoni’s captaincy form is in the IPL, it’s immaterial," Ganguly said.
“My point is that what selectors need to think is that three years down the line or four years down the line when the World Cup is going to happen, do they see MS Dhoni as captain of India. Does he have the ability in the next four years to see India into that World Cup in 2019? He has already given up Test cricket."
However, Ganguly defended Dhoni’s poor run this IPL, attributing it to factors like switching to a new franchise and squad after leading the Chennai for all previous eight seasons before the franchise was suspended for two years in the 2013 spot-fixing case.
“To be honest, he has come under fire but that’s because he has gone to a new franchise, new team. His side has not been the same as it has been before with the Chennai Super Kings. You got to take that into consideration," the left-hander said.
Virat Kohli has already taken over from Dhoni in Test cricket and done remarkably well as captain winning historic Test series against Sri Lanka away and South Africa at home.
"Coming to Virat Kohli, he has been exceptional. He is one of the best in the world at the moment. Whatever you have seen him as a Test captain, it has been phenomenal," Ganguly added.
The Cricket Association of Bengal president also felt that captaining a side for 13 years is very difficult, and he has his doubts seeing Dhoni continue that long.
“Dhoni has been captain for nine years, which is a long period. Does he have it in him to go for another four years? Do the selectors think he has got in him to go another four years and be captain of a country for 13 years and take them to the 2019 World Cup? I am not so sure. That’s the decision selectors will have to make."