Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) selection committee chairman MSK Prasad has said MS Dhoni hasn't been dropped but rested in order to "try out other keepers" during the upcoming T20I series against the West Indies and Australia.
The selectors announced the squads for the upcoming T20I series against the West Indies along with the T20I and Test squads for the Australia tour, starting November 21, late in the evening on Friday.
The decision to drop Dhoni from the T20I squads helped raise quite a few eyebrows as the World Cup-winning India captain's name has been axed for the first time since he achieved superstar status more than a decade ago.
21-year-old Rishabh Pant, who is tipped to be Dhoni's successor, has replaced the veteran wicketkeeper in both the squads.
Not ruling out a Dhoni comeback, Prasad insisted that the legendary wicketkeeper batsman's T20I career "not yet" over.
"We want to try out other keepers for the second keeper's slot," the chairman was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
Despite the waning big-hitting and finishing skills, Dhoni's numbers in T20Is in the ongoing year are impressive. From seven matches, the senior campaigner has managed 123 runs at a strike rate of more than 150.
The Chennai Super Kings captain also showed glimpses of his vintage self in their victorious Indian Premier League 2018 campaign, smashing 455 runs from 16 matches.
However, Dhoni, a veteran of 93 T20Is, is unlikely to continue until the next edition of World T20, which will be held in 2020. The Ranchi hero, who led India to glory in the inaugural edition of the premier T20I tournament, may not continue playing international cricket beyond next year's 50-over World Cup.
Keeping in mind the need for grooming young Pant, who has shown a lot of potential in the recent past, the selectors have come up with a bold decision to drop Dhoni and give the young wicketkeeper a run of six matches on the trot.
On the flipside, the decision to deprive Dhoni of six international fixtures is only going add to the concerns over his lack of adequate match practice in the lead up to next year's World Cup.
The Jharkhand cricketer, who is struggling for consistency in the 50-over format, had skipped Vijay Hazare Trophy duties. However, it will be interesting to see whether Dhoni will make himself available for the initial rounds of Ranji Trophy 2018-19 season, starting November 1.
India squads for West Indies T20Is, Australia Tests and T20Is
T20I series against West Indies: Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, Umesh Yadav, Shahbaz Nadeem.
Test series in Australia: Virat Kohli (C), M Vijay, KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Parthiv Patel, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
T20I series in Australia: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant (wk), Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, Krunal Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed.