New Delhi, Nov 6: India skipper Virat Kohli might be setting milestones across all formats but no one can beat his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni when it comes to popularity amongst fans.
The fact that Men In Blue lost the second T20I match against New Zealand and Dhoni's slow batting in the run chase of mammoth 197 was a reason for his team's loss.
'Dhoni' was the top trending tag on micro-blogging website Twitter after India's loss in Rajkot, but the cricketer, in spite of scoring a slow 37-ball 49 that went in a losing cause, had the sympathy of the fans.
Supporters were discussing how Dhoni-haters will come up with the logic how the senior pro was responsible for the loss when even as the top-order failed to give the right kind of start required to chase an imposing total.
Former India batsman VVS Laxman, however, during the post-match show opined it was time for Dhoni to leave the T20I scene and make way for youngsters.
"In T20Is, MS Dhoni's role is at No 4. He requires more time to get his eye in and then do the job. But today was a classical example because when Virat Kohli was batting, Dhoni had to give the strike to Kohli. Kohli's strike rate was 160, MS Dhoni's strike rate was 80. That's not good enough when India were chasing a mammoth total," Laxman said.
"I still feel it's time for MS Dhoni to give youngsters a chance in T20I format. It will be an opportunity for a youngster to blossom and get confidence playing international cricket. He is definitely an integral part of ODI cricket," he added.
However, a public opinion conducted by MyKhel titled 'Should MS Dhoni Retire from T20Is' showed maximum voices still in favour of the wicket-keeper batsman as they want him to stay in the shortest format.
There is no denying the fact that it was a combined failure of Team India as a batting unit that cost them the match. The hosts lost both their openers cheaply and rest of the batsmen, except for skipper Virat Kohli, too failed to rise to the occasion.
Dhoni, who came in to bat at number 5, had to score runs quickly for the asking rate was soaring but he's no more the same attacking cricketer that he once was.
It is a widely known fact that Dhoni takes some time to settle down and deals with ones and twos initially. But it was one of those matches when the team could not afford too many dot balls. Dhoni played the way he usually does, as a result, the run rate kept went from 9 per over to more than 14 per over.
Even Kohli - who was batting with an aggressive intent at the other end - couldn't do much as his partner couldn't rotate the strike well either. After his dismissal, team's chances of winning the game were all but over.
It was one of those days when two of India's biggest match-winners were present at the crease and still the team lost because they faltered in their run chase.
Everyone agreed with the fact that the team management should have sent Dhoni up in the batting order so that he could have settled down. But the T20I is one of the most unpredictable forms of the game as things change rapidly here and scoring runs quickly has been a hallmark of this format.
Therefore, a pertinent question now arises if the Ranchi dasher actually fits into the T20I format?
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly had in the past as well had claimed that he still sees Dhoni as a great ODI cricketer but doubted if he's the same cricketer in T20s. Former India pacer Ajit Agarkar too feels that Dhoni no more fits into T20 set-up.
With too much happening too quickly in a fast-paced T20I cricket, no team could afford to waste too many deliveries, especially in a big run chase. And somewhere Dhoni's batting style no more suits this format.
So, its high time selectors start looking for the veteran wicket-keeper's replacement in the shortest format of the game.
Investing in youth is the way forward for Indian cricket, plus there's a bleak possibility that Dhoni will be playing in the next T20I, hence time is ripe for the team management to start grooming the likes of Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson -- who are viewed as potential successors to the veteran stumper.
Although, he can definitely provide his services in the 50-overs format and play till 2018 world cup for he's one of the best cricketing brains and a sound batsman in the limited overs format.