What's the story?
India cricketer and the captain of the Gujarat Lions, Suresh Raina, has expressed his disappointment at the manner in which his India teammate and former captain MS Dhoni was snubbed as the captain of the Rising Pune Supergiant and has gone on record to say that he “misses” his captain.
It must be reiterated that Dhoni was removed as the captain of the Supergiant before the beginning of the season and was replaced by Steve Smith.
Raina was of the opinion that the senior statesman must be “respected” at all times. “I was disappointed. He has done so well for the country as well as for the IPL teams. He should be respected every time. It’s about not me saying, it’s the world saying,” Raina was quoted to have said this by PTI.
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The 35-year-old Ranchi-born wicketkeeper-batsman has only managed to accumulate 61 runs in 5 games this season and has not been anywhere close to being at his imperious best.
Evidently, there have been cries from all corners against Dhoni, with former India captain Sourav Ganguly having gone to the extent of saying that Dhoni isn't fit for T20 cricket.
The heart of the matter
Dhoni has been a seasoned campaigner over the years for India as well as for every other team that he has played for and has accumulated 5113 runs in T20 cricket at an average of 37.05 and a strike-rate of 134.
When the Indian batsman averaged just 26 in ODI cricket in the year 2016, there were critics calling for his retirement from competitive cricket. However, Dhoni came back strongly this year, scoring a match-winning century against England in Cuttack during the second ODI of the three-match series held in January.
Hence, Raina could be termed right when he said, “Having shared the dressing room with him (for India and CSK), you know what goes through when one faces hardships. He (Dhoni) should be respected as a player.
“In any profession, be it as a player or a journalist, you need to be respected. Even a player, however short his career span may be, wants to earn respect.”
When asked whether the lack of form or the criticisms are affecting Dhoni, Raina didn't mince with the words. “I don’t think. He’s back among runs. Hope he will do well better after two-three matches.
“We have only played five matches. After some time, the picture will be clear. He should bat up the order and bat long. He’s a world class finisher.”
The Champions Trophy 2017 follows the IPL immediately, and Australia, Bangladesh, and South Africa have already named their squads for the world tournament.
Raina, who would like to use the IPL to get back into the national team was very optimistic about the Indian team's chances at the tournament, especially under the leadership of Virat Kohli.
“Kohli has done really well in that department (passion and intensity). I feel he will lift the Champions Trophy for India this time. He knows how to channelise his emotion into aggression,” said Raina.
“Everyone supports him on the field. All the players like to play that way. If he starts scoring runs, I don’t think anyone can stop him from winning the Champions Trophy. He has done well in Test and one-day cricket. Now it’s time to go to England and do what MS did in ODIs (in 2013),” he added.
For all the flak that he has received, MS Dhoni remains a champion player, and just like he made a comeback in the 50-over comeback, one would reckon that it would only be a matter of time before he does the same in the T20s as well.
It must also be noted that Dhoni registered his first T20I fifty this year against England and that basing one's judgment on a small sample size of five games would not be very wise. MS Dhoni is a champion player and he must be respected for whatever he has given to the Indian team and to the sport at large.