Dhoni as a mentor: A short-term tonic or a bigger role awaits?
New Delhi: With the appointment of Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the mentor of Team India for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup, several questions are arising in the minds of every cricket fan as to why the former India captain was picked by the BCCI?
Is it a short-term tonic for a team that often falters in ICC events or a bigger role awaits MSD in the future? This further arises another question: How secure is the future of Ravi Shastri as chief coach now?
According to sources, BCCI Secretary Jay Shah has initiated the move to bring in Dhoni as the mentor of the Indian squad. Very few, not even the biggest of the BCCI officials, were in the know of the move.
Interestingly, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly was not present when the major decision was announced during a virtual press conference on Wednesday. His absence was also felt by many netizens. However, the BCCI chief had his reasons as he is currently touring with the team in England.
Dhoni is expected to work closely with skipper Virat Kohli and keep him at the top of his decisions. Dhoni is known for his sharp decision-making skills and his relationship with both Kohli and Shastri is set to bring a positive uplift in the Indian dressing room, or so it is believed.
There is also talks that batting coach Vikram Rathore might get the big job if Shastri's contract is not extended or if he doesn't intend carrying on with the high pressure job.
However, how good the experiment would turn out to be will be witnessed next month when the mega event begins in the UAE and Oman.
Meanwhile, while most of the former cricketers have welcomed the "great" move, ex-India captain Sunil Gavaskar has cautioned about a problem that Team India might now face in the T20 World Cup when the two giants – Shastri and Dhoni – sit together and discuss "tactics and team selection".
Is it hard to predict a disagreement sooner or later?
Speaking to a news channel, Gavaskar recalled an incident from 2004 when he had joined the Indian cricket team as a consultant, but the then head coach John Wright started worrying about his own role.
Citing this experience, Gavaskar raised his concern that any such disagreement over tactics and team selection may have some effect on the team.
"Ravi Shastri and MS Dhoni... if the partnership goes well, India will benefit a great deal from it. But if there are disagreements over tactics and team selection, then there might be a bit of an effect on the team," Gavaskar was quoted as saying.
However, former chief selector MSK Prasad suggested that "Mahi will gel well."
As a senior player, earlier with Team India and presently with Chennai Super Kings (CSK), the 2011 World Cup winning captain has always been a guiding force for his team members.
Ravi Shastri's contract ends after T20 World Cup.
It's possible the board would be looking at Dhoni as a long-term replacement for Shastri. If India can clinch the T20 World Cup and Shastri decides to quit, Dhoni will definitely be a strong contender.
Shastri, who has been the full-time coach since 2017, is unlikely to be given a third term and a new face might be seen. But there's only one hurdle. Dhoni is still the captain of CSK and he might want to continue playing in the IPL.
Conflict of interest
Amid all the "good" news, the BCCI apex council on Thursday reportedly received a complaint against Dhoni's appointment, citing the conflict of interest clause in the Lodha Committee reforms.
According to reports, former Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association life member Sanjeev Gupta has sent a letter to the apex council members saying that Dhoni's appointment is a violation of the conflict of interest clause, under which one person cannot hold two posts.
However, a BCCI official rubbished these claims, saying "a mentor has no say in team selection and one isn't even sure if Dhoni will play for CSK next season".