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Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni

Among speculations of MS Dhoni’s retirement, a source revealed that it was Virat Kohli who convinced Dhoni not to retire.

“It was only after Virat (Kohli) advised Dhoni not to quit immediately that the latter changed his mind,” said a source close to Kohli.

The source also said that Virat Kohli never doubted Dhoni’s fitness and could continue till the T20 World Cup. He added that the main idea to keep Dhoni was to groom Rishabh Pant.

“Virat feels that Dhoni has no fitness issues and can continue till the T20 World Cup next year if required by the team. The logic is that while grooming Pant, the Indian think-tank does not want any other wicketkeeper in the team. And, if Pant suffers any injury or loss of form during this time, then Dhoni can easily come in without any issues,” the source said.

Chief selector MSK  Prasad confirmed that Rishabh Pant would be India’s first-choice wicket-keeper and will feature in all three formats going forward.

“There are several potential wicket-keepers set to make an entry into the side, with the likes of Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson and Wriddhiman Saha waiting in the wings. “All these names can’t replace the experience of Dhoni when it comes to playing in a big tournament. Dhoni’s guidance has always been welcomed by Virat, and that’s why he wants him to be around for some more time till the team is settled,” the source said.

With Dhoni set to continue to represent CSK in IPL next year, his match fitness should not be an issue. “The T20 World Cup will only be about four months away from next IPL season. If the team management feels that his services are required, then why not have him in the mix till then?” the source said.

With Dhoni spending 2 months away without any injury, he is in danger of losing BCCI Grade A contract.

“The contract may be in danger if he makes himself unavailable despite being fit. If he is continued to be ignored by selectors during the remainder of his contract, which will expire in March 2020, then certainly his Grade A category could be in danger,” said the official. “The final decision in such contractual matters is taken by BCCI (COA in this case) in consultation with the team management and selectors.”