MS Dhoni has been dropped for the first time since he established himself as a heavyweight in Indian cricket. The 37-year old wicketkeeper-batsman will not be part of the T20I series against West Indies and Australia in November.
However, chief selector MSK Prasad made it a point to say “it is not the end of Dhoni in T20Is” and added that they are looking to firm up back-up options behind the stumps. To that end, both Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik have been picked for these six matches.
Dhoni has been part of 93 of the 104 T20Is that India have played since his debut in December 2006. In that time, he’s made 1487 runs at a strke-rate of 127, alongside 54 catches and 33 stumpings. He has also been one of the most recognisable figures in IPL cricket, having played each of the 11 seasons.
Having gone through a slump with Rising Pune Supergiant, he scored 455 runs at a strike-rate of 150 for Chennai Super Kings in their title-winning run earlier this year. Since then, he travelled to England as part of the T20I squads, although he got a chance to bat in only one of the three matches.
“The T20Is here and in Australia, he [Dhoni] is not going to play, because we are also looking at a second wicketkeeper,” Prasad said at a press conference on Friday. “That will be between Rishabh and Dinesh Karthik. So they will be getting a chance to keep and bat.”
Hardik Pandya was also missing from both squads. The allrounder has not recovered from a back injury that he suffered during the Asia Cup in September. “As of now, he won’t be ready till November 15. After that, we will take a call,” Prasad said.
Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma was named captain of India for the three-match series against West Indies, which begins on November 4. Virat Kohli will return to take the reins when the team begins its tour of Australia three weeks later.
India have also called up Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer into their squads for both series. The 23-year old last played a T20I in December 2017 but has since then become an important figure in the A team and also took over captaincy of the Delhi Daredevils. His IPL team-mate Shahbaz Nadeem earned an India call-up as well, soon after a world record performance, albeit in 50-over cricket.
The left-arm spinner picked up 8 for 10 in September and is part of five spin options that India have chosen to play West Indies, alongside the incumbents Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, and allrounders Krunal Pandya and Washington Sundar.
The seam attack will be led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, which now includes additional variation in the form of left-arm quick Khaleel Ahmed. Fast bowlers Deepak Chahar and Siddharth Kaul, who were part of India’s previous T20I squad on the tour of England, were left out.
In ODI news, Kedar Jadhav, who was ignored for the third game against West Indies despite his saying he was fully fit, has been recalled to play the final two matches of the series. “He is coming back from an injury which is why we asked him to play in the Duleep Trophy,” Prasad said. “We expected their team to go on to play the final which is why he’s not a part of the third ODI but is part of the fourth and fifth ODIs.”