Indian cricket legend Mahendra Singh Dhoni is in the final stages of his career. He hasn’t played any cricket since the World Cup semifinal in July but he hasn’t said anything about his retirement yet. After a successful and long career of 16 years, he was also removed from BCCI’s annual contract list which tells he is almost done as a cricketer now although you can write him off only at your own peril.
India have seen a total of 231 ODI cricketers which include the latest debutantes Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal. Dhoni made his ODI debut in December 2004 and he was 157th ODI cricketer to play for India which means 74 other cricketers have started playing ODI cricket after him. As we enter Dhoni’s birthday month, we take a look at 10 of those and find out where are they in the present scenario in this article.
VRV Singh, also known as Vikram Raj Vir Singh was a right-arm fast bowler who made his debut for India in 2006 but failed to grab on to his chances. He was seen as a promising bowler who was quick and was able to generate bounce because of his height. VVS Laxman and Jawagal Srinath termed him as ” Quickest Fast bowler at present ” when he impressed both of them in the Challenger Trophy that season.
Singh made his ODI Debut against England where he played two matches where he returned with figures like 5-0-33-0 and 7-0-72-0. He made his debut in the same game where Dhoni came to open the inning and scored 96. With such unimpressive results and the presence of better bowlers around, VRV was dropped from the ODI Team. His Test career lasted a lot more longer than his 4 Days old ODI career where he played 5 Tests. However, his Test career was toothless too and he was dropped from the team after playing his last Test in May 2007.
VRV played his last First Class match for Punjab in 2014 and finally announced his retirement from International cricket in 2019. He was the 164th player to represent India in ODIs.
There have been several wicket keeper batsmen whose careers didn’t flourish because of MS Dhoni. That’s how good he was. Selectors didn’t have to look for anyone else once Dhoni found his way into International cricket. Naman Ojha was also a victim of Dhoni’s excellence.
Ojha’s moment of reckoning into International cricket came only when the selectors decided to rest several players including MS Dhoni for the Tri Series including Zimbawe and Sri Lanka in 2010. He played only a solitary ODI where he scored a solitary run coming as an opener against Sri Lanka. The tour got over and Dhoni took over from him again. 5 Years later in 2015, when India’s specialist Test keeper Wriddhiman Saha got injured, Ojha got the opportunity to make his Test Debut, again against Sri Lanka. He played only one Test, scored 56 runs, took 4 catches and affected one stumping but never got a chance to play Tests for India as Saha did well as keeper.
The 36 Years old was the 174th player to play for India and he still continues to play First Class cricket for his state side, Madhya Pradesh.
Faiz Fazal’s story is very much similar to Ojha’s. Both of them started playing domestic cricket at a very similar time but none of them got the opportunity to play for India because of Dhoni’s dominance. It was only when India traveled to Zimbawe again for a 3 Match ODI series in 2016, Fazal got his ODI cap in the absence of Dhoni. He scored 55 runs in that game playing as an opener.
Unfortunately for him, he could not play for India even after impressing everyone in that single inning. Fazal is now toiling hard in the Domestic cricket for Vidarbha where he led his side to it’s first ever Ranji Trophy title in the 2017-18 season. Fazal himself top scored for his side with 912 runs in the entire season.
Abhishek Nayar, an useful batting All rounder for Mumbai in domestic cricket couldn’t quite make it big at the international level where he played only 3 Matches, all against West Indies. He was picked for India’s tour of West Indies in 2009 where he didn’t get to bat in either of his first two games. The series got over and India headed to South Africa to participate in the Champions Trophy in South Africa.
India got eliminated in the group stage itself by losing to both Australia and Pakistan. In a dead rubber against West Indies, Nayar again got his chance. India won that match quite comfortably but Nayar couldn’t open his account. He remained Not out on 0 after facing 7 balls. It was the same match in which Virat Kohli won his first Player of the Match award. He also bowled 3 overs in his career, conceding 17 runs without managing to get any wicket.
Nayar now plays First Class cricket for Puducherry and provides coaching and mentoring to the young cricketers.
Abhimanyu Mithun, a right-arm fast-medium bowler was the 180th player to don Indian blue jersey for 50 overs format. After making his First class debut for Karnataka in 2009, he got the call up to play for India in the same year, only 10 weeks later to be precise to replace an injured Sreesanth. However, he didn’t get any game in that series and got to play ODIs before Test cricket.
He made his ODI Debut in February 2010, a game after Sachin Tendulkar scored an incredible double hundred in Gwalior. Mithun finally got a chance to play Test cricket in India’s tour of Sri Lanka in 2010 where he started his Test journey with the figure of 4-138. It looked okayish but failed to make any impact. His career was cut short to only 4 Tests and 5 ODIs. He last played an ODI in December 2011. Currently, he is playing domestic cricket for his state team where he made the record of picking 5 wickets in an over recently.
Ashoke Dinda, a tall lanky fast bowler for Bengal who failed to live upto the expectations of selectors and cricket lovers, particularly from his state played his first ODI in May 2010, 3 games before Naman Ojha played his solitary ODI. Dinda’s career was comparatively longer than the others mentioned in this article thus far. He went on to play 13 ODIs and 9 T20Is for India. His T20 numbers look impressive but in ODIs, he could only manage to get 12 wickets at an economy over 6.
Dinda played his final ODI Match in January 2013 and then failed to win the trust of selectors at any other point in his career. He nowadays plays First Class cricket for Bengal but fails to make it to the final 11 a lot of times.
Saurabh Tiwary hails from the same state MS Dhoni comes from. He is a big fan of Dhoni and used to emulate his hairstyle in the initial days of his career. Known as the hard-hitting dashing left hander, the 31 years old broke into the Indian national side as the 189th Indian international ODI player in 2010 against Australia, a series in which few of the first choice players were rested.
He scored 12 not out on his ODI debut and took India home with the centurion Virat Kohli in a massive chase at Visakhapatnam. His best supporting inning came in the next inning against New Zealand where he supported Yusuf Pathan who scored an unbelievable 100 to win India the game in Bangalore. Tiwary didn’t get to bat in his final ODI as his ODI career didn’t last long. He now plays for Jharkhand in Ranji Trophy.
In December 2011, a leg spinner from Punjab made an excellent debut by picking 3 wickets after giving away 43 runs only but it got overshadowed by Sehwag’s 219 in the same match. India were in dire need of a leg spinner those days and Sharma looked like the solution of the problem with the way he started.
However once after being exposed under the limelight, Sharma quickly started to lose his way. He managed to play only 4 ODIs and he last played cricket for India in July 2012. He was a part of the IPL franchise Pune Warriors India where he made the news for all the wrong reasons. Back spasm affected his career very badly and after 2014, at the age of 28, he never played any competitive cricket lthough he still aims to get back to it in the near future.
Venugopal Rao is someone who made his ODI Debut just 8 months after MS Dhoni began his international journey. In this list, Rao is closest to MS Dhoni who had a gap of only 2 players between them. A middle order batsman from Andhra Pradesh, who could also bowl a bit of handy off spin started his career against Sri Lanka in July 2005 on a good positive note with a score of 38.
But with the emergence of Dhoni and Yuvraj in the middle order, he either didn’t get to bat more often or failed to make impact whenever he got the opportunities. Even when he scored the runs, they didn’t come at a quick rate forcing selectors to look for other options. Rao’s 16 Match long ODI career ended with a match against West Indies in 2006. His strike rate of only 60 was one of the biggest concerns in India’s middle order those days. Rao, then retired from both International and First class cricket in July last year.
Out of the 10 cricketers in this list, Praveen Kumar has to be the most successful one. Known as a hot tempered guy hailing from Uttar Pradesh, Kumar was famous for swinging the ball both ways. He first played ODI cricket against Pakistan in 2007 where he went wicketless in his 10 overs. Pakistan is the same team against which Kumar finished his career as well.
Praveen played 68 ODIs picking up 77 wickets. Indian fans will always remember him for his performances in the CB series which was a historic success in Indian cricket. Kumar had to battle out with lots of injuries in his career which is why he lost his place to Sreesanth in 2011 World Cup. Later that year, he was first picked for India’s tour of West Indies & then for England to play Test cricket which was also his last Test series as well. Kumar these days plays First Class cricket for Uttar Pradesh and was recently in news for misbehaving with his neighbor.