DAMBULLA: The five-match ODI series between India and Sri Lanka could be a make-or-break affair for two veterans – Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Lasith Malinga.
The spotlight at India’s optional practice session here on Thursday was squarely on Dhoni. Especially after chief selector MSK Prasad said the other day that “we will have to look at alternatives” if the former skipper doesn’t deliver.
At 36, Dhoni is not getting any younger and questions about his future are being raised time and again. The wicketkeeper-batsman turned the clock back along with Yuvraj Singh in Cuttack in January, when both batsmen hit hundreds against England. Dhoni did his bit in the Champions Trophy game against Lanka, too, helping India get past 300 after the top-order had faltered.
But he is definitely no longer the ‘finisher’ that the cricketing world was in awe of. He has looked a pale shadow of his former self on many occasions recently, most glaringly during the knock of 54 off 114 balls when India lost the fourth ODI against the West Indies last month.
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With Kohli and Ravi Shastri harping on fitness, the wicket harping on fitness, the wicketkeeper-batsman was seen taking those extra sprints under the watchful eyes of strength trainer Shankar Basu on Friday.
In the Lankan camp, the name Malinga no longer send chills down rival batsmen’s spines. The 33-year-old will play his 200th ODI match on Sunday and needs just two more wickets to become the fourth Sri Lankan – after Muttiah Muralitharan (534), Chaminda Vaas (400) and Sanath Jayasuriya (323) – to enter the 300-wicket club in ODIs.