New Delhi: Former India batsman VVS Laxman has suggested Mahendra Singh Dhoni to allow youngsters take his place in India's T20 squad but continue playing one-day internationals after the former India captain's indifferent knock became one of the reasons for India's defeat in the second T20I against New Zealand in Rajkot on Saturday.
"I feel it's time for MS Dhoni to give youngsters a chance in the T20 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," Laxman said in a post-match show.
India were chasing a challenging 197 to win the match and take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match T20I series, but the hosts fell way short of the target, losing the game by 40 runs.
Dhoni joined forces with skipper Kohli when India's scorecard read a shaky 67/4 in 9.1 overs. Kohli, though, was on song fetching the team boundaries regularly. But his usually effective partner Dhoni took 18 balls to score 16, which allowed New Zealand to tighten the noose.
"In T20s, 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 classic example, because when Virat Kohli was batting, Dhoni had to give strike to Kohli. Kohli's strike rate was 160, Dhoni's strike rate was 80. That's not good enough when India were chasing a mammoth total," Laxman added.
Dhoni did up the ante and ended up scoring 49 off 37, but he put his foot on the accelerator too late to change the result of the match in India's favour.
Former India pacer Ajit Agarkar backed Laxman and suggested Dhoni should think about his T20I career as India won't miss him in the format.
"I think India must now look at other options, at least in T20Is. In one-day cricket, they seem to be happy with the role that he (Dhoni) is playing. When you were the captain of the side, it was different. But just as a batsman, will India miss him? I don't think so. In T20 cricket, it is a lot easier to make that transition as there is a lot of experience in that team apart from MS Dhoni now," Agarkar told ESPNcricinfo.
"You had a chance (in the second T20 against New Zealand) if he had got going immediately but that has been his problem for a while now. It's not tonight or over the last few games. He takes a little bit of time to settle down and in Twenty 20 cricket, there is no time," Agarkar added said.
The three-match series will now move to Thiruvannanthapuram for the decider; however, a threat of rain looms large over the concluding fixture of New Zealand's tour.