Mahendra Singh Dhoni last played an international match – a T20 – against the West Indies.
With India and New Zealand locking horns in the ODI series starting in Dharamsala on Sunday, Sunil Gavaskar believes skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will find it hard to find his groove on his return to international.
Gavaskar feels Virat Kohli‘s batting will be key for the home team.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni last played an international match – a T20 – against the West Indies in Lauderhill, USA in August 2016 and was severely criticized for failing to take the team home in the first T20.
Speaking to NDTV on Friday, the former India captain used the example of golf legend Tiger Woods to highlight how difficult it is for ageing athletes to suddenly switch on at the international level.
“It will be extremely challenging for Dhoni to switch on. Look at Tiger Woods, it is very difficult to catch up when you are in your 30s,” Gavaskar said.
The legendary opening batsman picked out vice-captain Virat Kohli and the bowlers to make a difference in the five-match ODI series.
“Virat Kohli will be key player for India and of course, the bowlers if they bowl the right areas,” Gavaskar stated, adding that Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja would be missed.
Ashwin and Jadeja took the bulk of the 60 New Zealand wickets during the recently concluded Test series that India won 3-0.
Despite India whitewashing the Kiwis in the Test series, Gavaskar feels the ODIs will be a different story altogether. According to him, Kane Williamson’s men will come hard at the hosts and will be up for a fight.
“New Zealand are a very good ODI team. Brendon McCullum has left a terrific legacy. New Zealand will give India a hard time in the ODIs, much harder than the Tests,” said Gavaskar.
‘India will beat New Zealand 3-2’
When asked for his prediction, Gavaskar said the Men in Blue will take the series by a 3-2 margin. Gavaskar may not be off the mark when it comes to this. With Ashwin, Jadeja and Mohammed Shami not part of the ODI squad, there is every possibility that the visitors will bounce back.
India also suffered another blow ahead of the Dharamsala ODI, with lower-middle order batsman Suresh Raina being ruled out with an illness.
Despite playing with a depleted side, Dhoni and his men go into the series as firm favourites.
“) } (“datalayer”, “z1c09fc29-382f-4f51-a01b-5f504bd753d5”, true, 1, 1);