Former Indian cricketers VVS Laxman, Ajit Agarkar and Aakash Chopra said on Saturday (November 5) that it was time for Team India to look beyond MS Dhoni in T20I cricket after the team lost the second of the ongoing three-match T20I series against New Zealand in Rajkot.
Dhoni, who walked in at number six, joined in-form skipper Virat Kohli in the 10th over of India's chase of 197 on a batting-friendly wicket after Trent Boult had rocked the top order.
When India needed more than 10-12 runs an over, the former captain struggled to get going and thereby put pressure on his partner, who was looking good for a three-figure score at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
Kohli seemed to have felt the pressure as he played an uncharacteristic shot and got dismissed for 65 in the 17th over.
Dhoni hit a few big ones towards the end, but they were never going to take India past the line as the required run rate had shot up beyond India's grasp.
India will not miss MS Dhoni in T20I cricket
"India need to look at other options in T20 cricket for sure. ODI cricket, at the moment, they [Team India] seem to be happy with the role he [Dhoni] is playing. When he was captain, it was fine. But as a pure batsman, will India miss him? I don't think so. In T20 cricket, it's a lot easier to make the transition. There is enough experience apart from MS Dhoni now," Agarkar said during ESPNCricinfo's post-match show Matchday on Saturday.
He added: "It's not necessarily because of an innings tonight. He's been batting like this for a while. In T20I cricket, it's easier to move on. Sometimes the youngsters can do the job as well.
"It would have been still difficult to chase down that score. You had a chance if MS got going immediately. That's been his problem for a while. He takes a little bit of time, but T20 cricket, there is no time.
"I heard people saying he should bat at different positions, but he came into bat at the 10th over. How many times do you get to bat 10 overs in a T20I game? Enough time for any batsman."
No more the finisher
Dhoni's numbers in the shortest format of the game are still reading fine. However, his ability to close out matches has been on the wane.
The Ranchi dasher's inability to add impetus to the innings has hurt Team India's chances on a regular basis in the recent past.
'Focus should be on World T20 2020'
Meanwhile, former India opener Chopra stressed on the need for India to find a replacement for Dhoni well ahead of the the next edition of World T20 in 2020 as the 36-year-old is unlikely to continue beyond the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
The former Delhi opener also criticised the way the wicketkeeper-batsman approached a stiff chase on Saturday.
"Everybody keeps saying that MS Dhoni will be there for the 2019 World Cup. Do we know that there is a World T20 in 2020, one year after the 50-over World Cup. If he is not going to be there, which is a possibility, then why not look for somebody else. Just groom somebody while he is there in the 50-over format," Chopra said during the post-match show on Star Sports on Saturday.
"Today, it was not great. He did not just have to rotate strike. That was not good enough. If we need about 12-13 an over, taking a single is not going to work, even if Virat gets a boundary, it will not be enough. So you need to strike from both ends from ball one — it happens once in awhile in T20I cricket, Dhoni was just looking to get singles instead of hitting the big ones. Kohli felt the pressure and eventually he got dismissed," he added.
Make way for youngsters: Laxman
Laxman opined that Dhoni could still be an integral part of the 50-over side, but that it was time for him to give a chance to youngsters in the shortest format of the game.
"In T20s, MS Dhoni's role is at No 4. He requires more time to get his eye in and then do the job. But today [Saturday] was a classical example because when Virat Kohli was batting, Dhoni had to give strike to Kohli. Kohli's strike rate was 160, MS Dhoni's strike rate was 80. That's not good enough when India were chasing a mammoth total," Laxman said.
He added: "I still feel it's time for MS Dhoni to give youngsters a chance in T20 format. It will be an opportunity for a youngster to blossom and get confidence playing international cricket. He is definitely an integral part of ODI cricket."