Iconic former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was on Wednesday brought in as mentor of India’s 15-member T20 World Cup squad by the BCCI, a move that took everyone by surprise.
The 40-year-old Dhoni retired from international cricket last year, his last India game being the 2019 World Cup semi-final, which the team lost to New Zealand. “Former India captain MS Dhoni to mentor the team for the T20 World Cup,” announced BCCI secretary Jay Shah in a press conference to unveil the squad for the T20 World Cup scheduled to start October 17 in the UAE and Oman.
“(I) spoke to him in Dubai. He agreed to be mentor for World T20 only and I discussed with my colleagues and all are on the same page. I spoke to captain (Virat Kohli) and vice-captain (Rohit Sharma) and everyone agreed,” he added.
It is believed that Dhoni has been brought in for his experience in devising near-perfect white ball strategies and for knowing what it takes to win crucial ICC tournaments, where trophies have remained elusive for his successor.
One of the most successful captains in the history of Indian cricket, the enigmatic wicketkeeper-batsman led India to two world titles — the 2007 T20 World Cup in South Africa and the 2011 ODI World Cup in India. Dhoni is currently with his IPL team Chennai Super Kings, gearing up for the resumption of the league from September 19 in the UAE.
The reticent player’s retirement, announced by him through an Instagram post on August 15 last year, had taken the cricket world by surprise and he has not spoken even once about it after that. The highly-respected wicketkeeper-batsman played 90 Tests, 350 ODIs and 98 T20 Internationals amassing 4,876, 10,773 and 1,617 runs respectively across formats.
He has largely kept a low profile after retiring internationally, focussing on his IPL engagements and organic farming at his home town Ranchi.