It is the worst kept secret in Indian cricket now but India’s last match in the World Cup might also, in all likelihood, be Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s last game in the national colours.
If India qualify for the finals and go on to win the World Cup at the Lord's on July 14, it would be ideal setting for a fitting farewell for one of India's greats.
'You never know what MS Dhoni is. But it is unlikely that he will continue to play after this World Cup, but since his decision to quit captaincy from the three formats have been taken so suddenly, it is difficult to predict at the moment,' said a senior BCCI official.
The present selection panel, that is likely to stay till the October AGM, will obviously start the changeover process looking at the ICC World T20 in Australia next year. When the new committee takes over, the possible replacements for the shorter formats will be identified with reasonable time left for the World Series.
However, with India qualifying for the semi-finals at the World Cup, neither the team management nor the BCCI wants to comment about the issue. Dhoni has scored 223 runs in seven games at an impressive strike rate of 93 plus if one goes by the scorecards. But this does not reflect his inability to rotate the strike and strike big.
Some have attributed it to the lack of intent and some have pointed out his waning capabilities as a finisher, something that had once made him a top player in that format. With the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly also being critical of his approach, the team management knows only too well that they can’t carry their “beloved captain” beyond the marquee tournament.
His on-field contribution is still immense as every player who has appeared for media interactions has pointed out. 'The team management had to take a call in 2017 after the Champions Trophy. They decided that they will invest another two years in Dhoni till the 2019 World Cup. India have reached the semi-finals despite his lukewarm performances so he has been carefully shielded,' said a former India player. 'No one can ask him to retire but obviously he has got the drift that things won’t be the same,' he said.