The Indian selectors have not considered Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the three-match T20 series against South Africa which starts on September 15. The committee stuck to the same squad which defeated West Indies 3-0 in the ongoing Caribbean tour.
The former Indian captain, who had taken a sabbatical from international cricket after India's exit from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, was expected to make his return in the T20 series. But chief selector MSK Prasad told India Today that Dhoni made himself unavailable for the series.
Now the question arises: Did Dhoni make himself unavailable after getting indications from the selectors that he is not in their plan for the future?
A senior BCCI official told PTI that the selection committee will never ask Dhoni any questions regarding retirement. But according to them, Rishabh Pant is the first choice wicket-keeper across all formats. The official further mentioned that the three choices for white ball cricket are currently Pant, Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan.
"This selection committee is clear on one front. They will never ask any questions to Dhoni with regards to retirement as that's not their domain. But till they are in charge, they reserve the right to select the squad and as far as they are concerned, Rishabh Pant is now India's first-choice keeper across formats," the official told PTI. "The three choices as white ball keepers are Pant, Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan," he added.
Did Dhoni silently retire from international cricket?
Now the biggest question that comes to mind is whether Dhoni will ever again represent the country at all. The indications that the selectors have been giving after India's World Cup exit will not make Dhoni fans cheerful.
Earlier, after announcing the squad for the West Indies tour MSK Prasad had mentioned that a player like Dhoni knows when to retire and the selection committee is looking at the future of Indian cricket so they have started grooming youngsters.
The chief selector had also mentioned that Rishabh Pant is the first choice wicket-keeper for the future and Dhoni will be associated with the team as a second option. The 38-year-old will be given the duty to groom the young Pant for the future. He was expected to start doing that in the South Africa series.
But now, it does not seem that Dhoni is the second choice wicket-keeper as the BCCI official mentioned the three choices for the Men in Blue. Moreover, the World Cup-winning captain had taken retirement from Test cricket long back so it leaves the white ball format only left for the former skipper.
So, did BCCI unofficially make Dhoni retire from international cricket by looking at the future of Indian cricket or pressurise him to do so? It may be so or it may not be, but if it is true then the most successful Indian captain should get a proper farewell from India's cricket board and not be allowed to retire in such a low-key manner.