Veteran wicket-keeper and batsman, and former captain, MS Dhoni, may yet play in the Twenty20 World Cup for India later this year. That, at least, is the view of India team coach, Ravi Shastri, who insists that the 38 year old could still be in contention for a place in the squad.
He has not played first class cricket since taking a sabbatical from the game, since India’s defeat at the hands of New Zealand during the World Cup semi-final in England last summer. Since then, apart from a spell serving with his Territorial Army unit in Kashmir, he has been busy with a number of private projects, including making a television documentary about members of the armed forces.
Despite intense speculation about his future, with many suggesting that he is about to announce his retirement, he has remained tight-lipped about his intentions, He is currently due to return to action in the IPL, which gets underway at the end of March, captaining the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) as they chase their fourth title, having last lifted the trophy in 2018. They also won it in 2010 and 2011.
Dhoni quit test cricket back in 2014, and, Shastri believes, is likely to give up one day internationals, preferring to concentrate his energies on the short-form T20 cricket, which places less strain on his ageing body.
He has played 98 T20Is for India to date, and has taken a world record 57 catches and 34 stumpings in his career to date. He has also scored more than 1,600 runs, and has a batting average of 37.60.
So, if Dhoni has a strong IPL with the bat and behind the stumps, he could still force his way into the selectors’ thoughts for the World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in Australia between October and November. In that event, he is likely to compete with Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson for a place in the squad, with Pant perhaps the one to miss out, although he could still be picked as a specialist batsman.
Could this autumn in Australia yet be the swansong for Mahendra Singh Dhoni?