The Indian squad for West Indies tour was announced on Sunday and it clearly showed that selectors might not have any further plans for former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in future.
There was a lot of speculations around MS Dhoni and his retirement from international cricket after an underwhelming show at 2019 World Cup but apparently, Dhoni voluntarily made himself unavailable for the tour to serve the Indian paramilitary force. It might sound patriotic to many Indian fans but in a way, it is also hurting current Indian set up because if Dhoni keeps on playing, it might confuse the team management about how they are going to groom the next generation of wicketkeepers.
Right now, the Indian team has Rishabh Pant as the rightful successor for Dhoni and he has done well in the longest format when given chances. The kind of phase/form Dhoni is going through, it is very unfair for the likes of Pant, Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson and KS Bharat as they get pushed down the pecking order.
Dhoni is 38 right now and it is pretty evident that he is not in plans of selectors for 2023 World Cup and even 2020 T20 WC with Pant already in team management's plans. The 20-year-old has proved himself in Indian Premier League in the past couple of years and his position in India's T20 WC squad is almost fixed. So, it will be the same selection blunder for Team India (2019 World Cup) to play with 2 wicketkeeper batsmen in playing XI if Dhoni continues to play on for India.
Without any doubt, Dhoni is one of the greatest match-winners and captains that India ever produced but it is time for him to take a decision on his career. Dhoni playing one or more year could hinder the chances of growth for the young wicketkeepers like Pant and Ishan Kishan as in the next World Cup, they might not be ready for the big challenge.
Even Dhoni did the same during the 2012 CB series when he decided to drop senior players to prepare the team for the 2015 World Cup. MS made up his mind in the CB series that he can’t play with 3 senior player – Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in the same team due to their fitness level which Gambhir himself revealed.
"It's important to look into the future. And when Dhoni was the skipper, he invested in the future. I remember Dhoni saying in Australia that me, Sachin and Sehwag can’t play the CB series together as the grounds were big. He wished for young players for the World Cup. It’s necessary to take practical decisions than being emotional," Gambhir told a news channel.
Some might say that Virat Kohli and Team India still need MS Dhoni in the dugout for his experience, but we must accept the fact that he already retired from Test cricket (in December 2014) and without him, the team has done pretty well. The Kohli-led Indian team is right now on top of the ICC Test rankings and has already beaten Australia in their own backyard for the first time in history. It all suggests that the team might take some time to settle in white-ball cricket without Dhoni but it will be good for him to make way for young wicketkeepers to grow.
With Dhoni still in the team’s plans, it will be a tough call for skipper Kohli to bench him and that will be the worst thing for any young wicketkeeper who is aiming to play the 2023 World Cup.