A couple of months ago, MSK Prasad, India’s outgoing chief national selector, had specified that the five-member national selection panel will look beyond Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The idea was simple; to back young Rishabh Pant as much as possible.
Even though he added a footnote that the selectors did have a word with Dhoni, it was not clear what they discussed. It, however, was evident that only some consistent performances could open the door for the World Cup-winning captain again.
However, with Dhoni staying away from any cricketing activities for the last six months, there is still no clarity on whether the 38-year-old will at all return to the international fold?
And on Thursday, as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) left him out of its central contract list, some of the top Board officials indicated that they had to take the tough call as Dhoni was out of competitive cricket for six months and there was no communication from his end in terms of his future. “The national selectors only put up the proposal for the central contract list and as far as MSD was concerned, there was no clarity on whether he would like to continue or not,” one of the officials, in the know of things, said.
However, reports claimed that Dhoni was informed about the decision before finalising the list.
Dhoni was in the A list last year, which fetched him Rs 5 crore a year. But this time around, he has not been part of the Indian team since the World Cup in June-July, last year.
“These are the contracts for this cycle, awarded on the basis of performance from the last cycle. Dhoni was out of the circuit after the World Cup,” the official clarified.
Since the World Cup, he has missed the tour of the West Indies and the home series against South Africa, Bangladesh, the West Indies and the ongoing series against Australia.
While he is expected to appear for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, he has so far not even featured in any domestic tournaments.
One of the superstars of Indian cricket, Dhoni has led the country to two World Cup titles — World Cup in 2011 and World T20 in 2007 — and the Champions Trophy in 2013.
In a promotional event in Mumbai a month ago, Dhoni had casually stated that he will talk about his future only after January. However, as of now, he seems to have kept the selectors and the team management guessing.