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Bowlers have found a chink in MS Dhoni's armour, says Ian Bishop

India Today logo India Today 01-06-2016

Ravi Shastri's comments in an interview to India Today calling for Virat Kohli to take over the ODI reins from MS Dhoni have created more than a flutter. Having served as Team India director for the best part of the last two years, Shastri is seen as an insider and has brought Dhoni's future on the discussion table again. His comments are seen by many as a reflection of Kohli's rising stocks and Dhoni's decline.

DHONI'S DECLINE AS A CRICKETER

A regular commentator at IPL and former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop underlines a critical point explaining Dhoni's decline as a cricketer. "I saw it closely during the IPL and I interact with West Indians who gave me first hand feedback about Dhoni's strengths and weakness. Bowlers now have found a chink in his armour. They bowl back of a length. They bowl shorter and don't go for yorkers at the end of the innings. It's now for MS to fight back," he tells India Today.

This IPL season, Pune Supergiants, the new franchise led by Dhoni, finished at the bottom half of the points table with Dhoni the batsman playing only one innings of note in the final game by when, the damage was done.

'VIRAT IS LEADING BY EXAMPLE'

Bishop echoes Shastri's views but falls short of saying it in as many words. "I am not qualified to say what Ravi has, he has been inside the system. It's hard to gauge as leadership is just not what we see. Its man management and intellect. But what I have seen of Virat he is passionate and leading by example. Time will come eventually where I see that happening," he says.

Flashback 2007! A young Team India had won the inaugural World T20. On the receiving end in the final were Pakistan coached by former Aussie pacer Geoff Lawson.

Speaking to India Today, Lawson finds it surprising that Dhoni actually believes he can last another World Cup cycle. "2019 is three years away. It's a long time in any sportsperson's life. It would be amazing if he can hold on till then. Look, it will surprise me. He's lucky he has avoided any major injury. But he is a wicketkeeper and your knees and fingers get a banging. If he is still around in 2019, he will get a standing ovation every time he walks on the field," he says wryly.

Former Pakistan fast bowler turned analyst Shoaib Akhtar is more considerate of Dhoni and his future. "Dhoni has done wonders for India. He is not doing well for whatever odd reasons but I have always backed him. If he wants to continue, judge him by his form and fitness. When time comes, have to send him away with respect and on a high," he says. But even in his defence of Dhoni, Shoaib brings in his exit talk.

Dhoni would soon be leading a fringe team for India's tour of Zimbabwe. The only other opportunity he would get to play in Indian blues for the rest of the year is the five-match ODI series against New Zealand. If his views haven't changed from his post match dramatics after the World Cup semi final loss, suggesting another three years in Indian colours, Dhoni may have to summon all his guts and reserves to stay in the hunt.

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