Cricket

Dhoni has to show he deserves India spot: Raju

A leader is born: M.S. Dhoni repaid the selectors’ faith in him by returning with the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in 2007.

A leader is born: M.S. Dhoni repaid the selectors’ faith in him by returning with the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in 2007.   | Photo Credit: Gallo Images

Difficult task for anyone returning from a long break, says former selection panel member

Doubts linger around the Indian Premier League’s prospects of having a truncated version and simultaneously there is talk about how originally it was also seen as a platform to evaluate M.S. Dhoni. Venkatapathy Raju, who was a member of the selection panel that appointed Dhoni as India skipper back in 2007, admitted that the former India captain’s national comeback could be a difficult endeavour.

Also read: Sportstar's all-time sports classics: Lord's to Wankhede, the Dhoni way!

On being specific about Dhoni’s chances of wearing the blue shade again, the former India left-arm spinner said that with the current selectors investing in two wicketkeepers, the legend would have to understand his role.

“He has been a match-winner for 15 years and has a huge fan following. But, for any international sportsperson to come back after such a long break is difficult. And, importantly, Dhoni should be in the scheme of things to be picked based on performances in the IPL, if it at all it is held,” Raju said.

Still remarkably fit, Dhoni’s 38 summers, could still be a factor and Raju said: “Any player has to keep playing and performing to be in contention. Be it domestic, India-A series or any other competitive cricket. For, you are not out to prove yourself to others, but to prove to yourself that you belong there. Age also is a big factor. Playing international cricket is never easy. It demands a different level of fitness and skills.”

Raju.

Raju.   | Photo Credit: KVS Giri

 

Remembering Dhoni’s halcyon days when he emerged as India’s captain, Raju said: “Dhoni was the only cricketer performing under pressure at the time, so we unanimously decided to go with him.

Also read: In Dhoni land: talk about retirement, flagging skills lost amid fan fervour

“The guiding principle for our panel was simple — only consistent performers and match-winners would be considered. Dhoni’s calmness and the way he handled things impressed all of us. It was a unanimous decision.

“The other reason for Dhoni being preferred was that several India players were returning from injuries or long breaks. Hence, we thought he was the best option, and we never had any regrets.”

Raju also highlighted that he and his fellow selectors backed Anil Kumble as the Test captain. “It is important to note that we made Kumble the Test captain for the 2007 Australia tour. That proved to be a wise move given the infamous ‘Monkeygate’ and the way Kumble and the late Dr. M.V. Sridhar (then administrative manager of the Indian team) handled the issue.”

While Raju leant into nostalgia, in a lighter vein he quipped: “Firstly, I never wanted to be a selector having cursed them for not getting my due as a player!”

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 8:34:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/dhoni-has-to-show-he-deserves-india-spot-raju/article31130382.ece

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