No MS Dhoni? Sunil Gavaskar predicts MSD-less batting order for three-match T20I series

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After the five-match ODI series, focus shifts to the T20I contest. India will face New Zealand in a three-match series starting February 6 at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington. And ahead of the series opener, former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar was asked to predict his batting lineup up till No.7. But while calling out a couple of youngsters for the middle-order, Gavaskar missed MS Dhoni’s name before former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson suggested that the veteran can be given rest in the series. 

After a dismal 2018 where Dhoni recorded his worst numbers in ODIs in his 12-year-long career, he burst into the frame with three back-to-back fifties against Australia in 2019. He scored 51, 55 and 87 in the three-match series against Australia to not just earn the Man of the Series award, but also shrug off all questions regarding his World Cup spot. He followed it up with an unbeaten and a gritty 48 in the second ODI against New Zealand. He amassed a total of 242 runs in the five innings in this year recording an astronomical average of 121 which includes three fifties. However, Gavaskar, in conversation with Star Sports, missed out Dhoni’s name in a bid to give him rest before the Australia series kicks off. 

Sunil Gavaskar’s batting lineup for T20I seriesRohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya

Mike Hesson then explained that the T20I series gives a “huge opportunity for Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik to solve those World Cup decisions. We know MS Dhoni is going to be part of World Cup.”

At the end of the discussion, Gavaskar also revealed his prediction for the three-match T20I series – 2-1. 

The Men in Blue have played a total of nine T20I games against the Blackcaps winning only two matches. And India managed to win their only T20I series in New Zealand under the captaincy of Dhoni in their 2008/2009 tour recording a whitewash in the two-match contest.