Former India batsman and current Member of Parliament from East Delhi Gautam Gambhir believes that the absence of the 13th season of the Indian Premier League will make it difficult for veteran wicket-keeper batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni to stage an international comeback.
Dhoni, who last played for India during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, missed the West Indies tour (and all subsequent series) last year due to his training for the parachute regiment of the Indian Army in Kashmir valley.
Dhoni was subsequently in the news in January when his name wasn’t to be found in the list of annually contracted Indian players. It was widely anticipated that a stellar IPL season might open doors for Dhoni’s international comeback keeping eyes on the ICC T20 World Cup 2020.
One of the things that I am doing during the #Lockdown is stay connected with my beloved game through #CricketConnected. Watch me today at 7 PM & 9 PM on Star Sports Network & Disney+ Hotstar in the grand company of @VVSLaxman281 @KrisSrikkanth @jatinsapru @StarSportsIndia pic.twitter.com/Bs5yKgzgFE
— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) April 11, 2020
“If the IPL does not happen this year, then it will become very difficult for MS Dhoni to make a comeback. On what basis can he be selected since he’s not been playing for the last one or one and a half years,” Gambhir was quoted as saying during Star Sports Cricket Connected.
In Dhoni’s absence, India duly backed wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant before an injury saw him getting replaced by Lokesh Rahul.
In the 10 limited-over matches that Rahul has played as a specialist wicket-keeper batsman this year, he has scored 527 runs at an average of 65.87 and a strike rate of 125.77 including one century and four half-centuries. Throwing light on Rahul’s top form, Gambhir thinks that he “could be” Dhoni’s apt replacement.
“The apt replacement for Dhoni could be KL Rahul. Ever since he has donned the keeper’s gloves in white-ball cricket, I’ve seen his performance, both batting and keeping. Obviously his keeping is not as good as Dhoni’s, but if you are looking at T20 cricket, Rahul’s a utility player, can keep and bat at No. 3 or 4,” Gambhir said.
Gambhir, who expressed disappointment over Dhoni’s World Cup-winning six a fortnight ago, mentioned that hanging his boots should remain the former captain’s personal choice.
“If the IPL does not happen, then MS Dhoni’s chances for a comeback look dim. Ultimately, you are representing India, so whoever dishes out the best performance and can win the match for India should play for the team. As far as his retirement plans go by, that’s his personal choice,” Gambhir added.