MS Dhoni has been left out of the BCCI’s central contacts list for players. He has not played for India since the 2019 Cricket World Cup semi-final defeat to New Zealand.
MS Dhoni had retired from Test cricket in December 2014 after playing 90 matches and had stepped down as captain of India’s limited-overs formats teams in January 2017.
MS Dhoni was part of Grade A in the BCCI’s central contracts list last year but after he had made himself unavailable since the World Cup, he was left out of the 27-member list for the period from October 2019 to September 2020.
Dinesh Karthik, Khaleel Ahmed and Ambati Rayudu are the other players to lose out on their central contracts.
BCCI Central Contracts for 2019-20:
Grade A+ (INR 7 cr): Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah
Grade A (INR 5 cr): Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav, Rishabh Pant
Grade B (INR 3 cr): Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal
Grade C (INR 1 cr): Kedar Jadhav, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Manish Pandey, Hanuma Vihari, Shardul Thakur, Shreyas Iyer, Washington Sundar.
Dhoni, who has been on a sabbatical since July 2019, has not publically cleared the uncertainty surrounding his future. In his absence, Rishabh Pant has been the preferred wicketkeeper for India in T20Is and ODIs.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar recently questioned Dhoni’s prolonged absence from international cricket.
“I can’t tell you anything about fitness. But I think the question that needs to be asked is of MSD himself,” Gavaskar said.
“He has not made himself available to play for India since July 10. That is the important point. Does anyone keep himself away from playing for India for that long? That is the question and therein lies the answer,” he said.
After the World Cup, Dhoni did not tour West Indies and did not feature in the series againt South Africa, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and West Indies. He was also not named in the ongoing 3-match ODI series against Australia and the T20I series in New Zealand which starts later this month.
Former India cricketer Madan Lal, speaking to India Today, said it was looking difficult for MS Dhoni to play the T20 World Cup later this year: “I think he has been left out of the contracts list because he did not play in the last 6 or 7 months.”
MS Dhoni has so far played 350 ODIs and 98 T20 Internationals.
India play the T20 World Cup in Australia this year and with MS Dhoni left out of the annual contract list, it remains to be seen whether he will indeed play the World Cup.
MS Dhoni had led India to victory in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, 50-over World Cup in 2011 and the 2013 Champions Trophy in England.