MS Dhoni is on a break from cricket, yet on duty in uniform
Amidst retirement speculation, Dhoni makes himself unavailable for West Indies tour as cricket icon decides to take two-month sabbatical to serve his paramilitary regiment
World Cup-winning former Indian captain MS Dhoni has communicated to the selectors that he will be 'unavailable' for the series against West Indies, and thereby has laid to rest all talks about immediate retirement.
There have been growing speculations about MS Dhoni's retirement after the World Cup 2019 got over but Dhoni has told the BCCI that he will be taking a short sabbatical from cricket to serve a unit in the Indian defence forces.
Dhoni is an Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Parachute Regiment of the Territorial Army, "We would like to clarify three things. MS Dhoni is not retiring from cricket right now. He is taking a two-month sabbatical to serve his paramilitary regiment which he had committed much earlier. We have now intimated his decision to skipper Virat Kohli and chairman of selectors MSK Prasad," a senior BCCI official told PTI on Saturday.
Dhoni's refusal to take retirement now leaves the ball in the court of the selectors, who were expected to drop him from the squad for the West Indies. India will play three T20Is, as many ODIs and two Tests in the tour starting August 3.
It is believed that the selection committee chaired by MSK Prasad wants to move forward with an eye on future but they would also like to get a sense of where the Indian captain stands on this issue. "The selection committee has always been clear on one issue. They have no right to tell anyone irrespective of their stature as to when they should call it quits but when it comes to team selection, it remains their domain," a senior BCCI official said.
With Dhoni pulling out of the tour, Rishabh Pant is expected to be first wicketkeeper in all three formats while Wriddhiman Saha will be Pant's understudy in the Tests.
From now, the focus will be more on T20 cricket keeping the World T20 in mind, which is scheduled to be held in Australia next year.
India will be playing a lot of bilateral three-match T20 series in run-up to the global meet and with Dhoni expected to play one more season of IPL with Chennai Super Kings, things are a bit tricky at the moment.
There are a few questions that the selectors need to answer.
Whether they see Dhoni playing till World T20? If the answer is yes, are they willing to give him 15 to 18 T20s during the phase as a 'keeper-batsman?
If that answer is also yes, it would boil down to whether skipper Virat Kohli sees him as a batsman in T20s where 'keeping isn't the primary skill required.
The current selection committee's term ends in October when the BCCI elections are scheduled and they would like to put a transition phase in place in consonance with what the captain and the coach want.
With inputs from PTI
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