3 reasons why MS Dhoni could be prolonging his international career

Ashwin Srinivasa

The biggest moment of Dhoni's career - 2011 ICC World Cup

MS Dhoni has arguably been the biggest match-winner for India in ODI cricket.

In 2004, he came into an Indian side that was critically weak in chasing down targets. India in the early 2000's showed enough promise with youngsters, but somehow got overawed in big moments barring the exception of Natwest series.

Dhoni showed nerves of steel during these critical junctures and forged strong partnerships with Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh, and the trio would close out games for India. The team became a strong chasing unit and had 17 successful chases in the 2005-06 season.

When Dhoni was handed over the reigns of captaincy, he became a master strategist and created a roadmap for the Indian team. He forged a core group that went on to win multiple significant trophies for India. Once the seniors phased out in the 2011-12 season, he inducted a group of youngsters who have gone onto become a force in world cricket.

Dhoni relinquished his captaincy at the right time to give enough space for the rampaging Virat Kohli to build his own core group for the 2019 World Cup.

Dhoni in his current role has been more of the torchbearer, guiding young bowlers and strategizing with the team management. However, can this legacy be enough for him to secure a berth in India's World Cup 2019 squad? Only time will tell.\

Here are three reasons why he might be prolonging his international career

#3 The desire to win another ICC Trophy

Dhoni with Shikar Dhawan (left) and Ravindra Jadeja (right), India's two biggest match-winners in the Champions Trophy 2013

Dhoni has been a critical figure for India in ICC Tournaments. Barring the exceptions of ODI World Cup in 2007 and World T20 in 2009 and 2010, he has been pivotal to India's performance over the years in these marquee tournaments.

As the whole world knows, Dhoni is the only captain in history to win to the three major ICC tournaments. Under him, India had exceptional campaigns in 2014 World T20, ODI World Cup in 2015 and 2016 World T20, even though they could not emerge as the winners.

He somehow has it in him to raise his game and also the team's morale during big tournaments, which has made India the most consistent team in the last decade.

When India bowed out of the 2015 World cup after the defeat to Australia in the semi-final, there was a speculation that Dhoni would retire. However, he put those rumours to rest, when he announced his intentions to captain India in ICC World T20 2016.

When India lost to Windies in the semifinals, an Australian reporter in the post-match press conference overtly asked Dhoni "When are you going to retire?". Dhoni gave him a tongue-in-cheek reply by calling him to the presser podium and reiterated that he was fit and that he could continue till the 2019 World Cup.

With Kohli at the helm, the team composition for the 2019 World Cup seems promising and experts have touted India as one of the favourites. Their recent form in white ball cricket gives Dhoni a hope wherein India can go all the way in the tournament and he can retire on a high.

#2 Backing from the Team Management

MS Dhoni: Virat's go-to man in crucial moments

With Ravi Shastri and Kohli are at the forefront of managing Team India, they have been vocal about the impact Dhoni has on the team. Dhoni with his vast experience has guided Kohli numerous times in setting fields, making the right changes, guiding the bowlers and assisting with the DRS.

Kohli, with whom Dhoni shares a great camaraderie, has gone on the record to say that suggestions given by Dhoni work 9 out 10 times.

Shastri in his interview with various media outlets has made it clear that Dhoni is a part of India's World Cup 2019. He even mentioned about Dhoni moving up the order to provide more support to the top three.

The former Indian skipper's top-notch insane wicket keeping skills also make him that much more reliable for the team management. He affects a number of whirlwind stumpings, run-outs and catches behind the stumps.

In the last year or so, it has been made crystal clear that Dhoni will play the World Cup in England. However the decision to drop him from the T20 side is a clear indication that a Rishabh Pant or a Dinesh Karthik are going to feature in India's plans when they fly to Australia to feature in the World T20 in 2020.

#1 Promising but inexperienced successors

Pant is being groomed to become the next MS Dhoni

With the advent of IPL, there is no shortage of talent in India. The league is a real platform for domestic Indian talent to come face to face with international superstars.

With Dravid at the helm of coaching the India A and the U-19 teams, India has been able to unearth some raw gems that can be polished and converted into precious diamonds in the near future. Dravid has worked with these young talents and inculcated in them the values and mental discipline required to succeed at the highest level.

Three young wicket-keepers – Pant, Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson – along with Karthik, are in the reckoning to take Dhoni's place in the side after his retirement.

Karthik made his debut before Dhoni in 2004 and has been in and out of the team ever since. Even though he has the experience, he has more often than not found wanting in crucial situations.

Pant has shown enough promise with his batting in Tests and IPL, but he needs to improve his glovework to stake a real claim to be Dhoni's replacement.

Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson are waiting in the wings – their impressive displays in the IPL make them contenders to the coveted wicket keepers slot in the senior side in the shorter formats of the game.

World Cup 2019 will be a marquee event, one that has made teams put on their thinking caps to figure out their best playing combination. India has more or less a settled batting unit now that Ambati Rayudu looks to have sealed his spot at Number 4.

Trading this combination with a less experienced wicket-keeper batsman maybe detrimental to India's chances, if at all they get into the business end of the tournament.