Will the fourth ODI against New Zealand on Wednesday be the last time MS Dhoni plays for India in Ranchi? The international schedule for the next few months suggests so.
In a packed season of Tests, India are scheduled to play three ODIs and three T20Is against England before the Champions Trophy in June. Ranchi will host a Test against Australia early next year. But since Dhoni has retired from Tests, there is doubt whether he will walk out again on his home ground wearing blue.
The Champions Trophy in England is a marquee series for Dhoni and India. Irrespective of the result, Virat Kohli is bound to succeed Dhoni sometime soon. Whether Dhoni will play under Kohli is something only he can answer. Those who have seen Dhoni grow up aren’t ready to believe that he will quit soon. “This (ODIs) is his forte. Have you seen him run? I still think Dhoni can play for some more years,” said Chanchal Banerjee, Dhoni’s first senior-level coach.
Keshav Banerjee, the man responsible for converting goalkeeper Dhoni into a wicket-keeper at school, believes his boy will not give up till the next World Cup. “He will play the 2019 World Cup. He has been working out a lot and can run faster than most youngsters in the team,” Banerjee told OCT
Banerjee was admitted to hospital late on Sunday with high blood pressure. “But I didn’t forget to watch the game. Dhoni was outstanding,” he said. Asked if Dhoni knows about his illness, Banerjee said he had been informed. “But I don’t know if he can come. He is so busy,” he said.
Dhoni’s homecomings have been such — either limited by schedule or reclusiveness. By the time a bystander realises it was Mahi under the helmet, he is long gone on one of his motorcycles. Friends and coaches claim they hardly get to see him. But Dhoni knows how to please all. The first time Ranchi had hosted an ODI — against England in 2013 — Dhoni ambled out at No 5 to ensure people saw him hit the winning runs with a boundary. People went berserk.
They went berserk again on Monday, turning up in hundreds to welcome Dhoni despite a massive strike. “Bas ek chakka chahiye (A six is all we want),” said an auto driver while trying to catch Dhoni’s attention. People know Dhoni is the kind who won’t linger if his time is up. But as long as he plays for India, they will pray he hits the winning six.
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