The ongoing suspense over Mahendra Singh Dhoni's future with the Indian team is yet to resolve. Now, coach of the Men in Blue, Ravi Shastri, has spoken out on the issue in an interview and has dropped a hint on the subject.
Speaking to the news agency IANS, Shastri said that people should wait till next year's Indian Premier League (IPL) before speculating on the future of World Cup-winning former Indian captain. He plainly added that Dhoni's performance in the T20 tournament would determine his future with the Indian side.
"It all depends on when he (Dhoni) starts playing and how he is playing during the IPL. What are the other people doing with the wicket-keeping gloves or what is the form of those players as opposed to Dhoni's form? The IPL becomes a massive tournament because that could be the last tournament after which more or less your 15 (for World T20) is decided."
Essentially, the Indian team's coach has made it mandatory for MSD to play and perform in the IPL to get back into the Indian team. The legendary wicketkeeper-batsman hasn't represented India since the World Cup. In limited-overs formats, India has tried to use Rishabh Pant as Dhoni's successor but that hasn't yielded great results.
This has meant that the possibility of Mahi playing in the World T20 has remained very much alive. Going by the words of Indian team's coach, IPL will be a trial for all the wicketkeeper-batsmen in the mix to prove their credentials. If Dhoni continues to perform as he did in the past season of the T20 league, his spot would be sealed.
Continuing on the issue of how IPL would act as the trial for World T20 selection, Shastri added: "There might be one player who might be there and thereabouts in case of an injury or whatever. But your team I would say would be known after the IPL.
"What I would say is rather than speculating of who is where, wait for the IPL to get over and then you are in a position to take a call on who are the best 17 in the country."
Shastri has been one of the biggest supporters of Dhoni in the past and has often reacted strongly to suggestions that his time is up. But this latest comment suggests that the man who led India to triumph in the very first World T20, in 2007, won't be an automatic pick for the 2020 edition of the event. He will have to compete with others such as Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson to earn his spot.