MS Dhoni removed from BCCI annual contract; can he still play for India?

File photo former Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni is seen during the first one day international (ODI) cricket match against Australia at M A Chidhambaram Stadium in Chennai. Photo: PTI
The India cricket team veteran wicketkeeper-batsman, MS Dhoni, has been removed from the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI’s) annual contract list for October 2019 to September 2020. The former captain, who was in Grade-A list until last season, received Rs 5 crore from BCCI under his contract. Does his removal from the contract mean an end to his illustrious international cricket career? Or can he still play for the national side?

There have been doubts over Dhoni’s future in Team India since last July, when India were evicted from the ICC Cricket World Cup after losing to New Zealand in the semi-final. Dhoni, who has already retired from Test cricket, has not made himself available for selection to the national one-day international (ODI) and T20 sides since then.

MS Dhoni retired from Test cricket in December 2014 after playing 90 matches and setting numerous records. He stepped down from India’s captaincy in the limited-overs format in January 2017. On a sabbatical from cricket since July 2019, Dhoni recently told the media at a promotional event that he should not be asked about cricket until January.

However, in an indication that he was gearing himself up for the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL), the 38-year-old cricketer on Thursday joined his state team of Jharkhand for a practice session in Ranchi.

Can Dhoni still play for India in ODIs and T20s?

The omission of Dhoni’s name from the BCCI annual contract does not mean he cannot make a comeback to the national squad. According to BCCI rules, if a player is not part of the annual contract but represents India in at least two matches during a one-year contract cycle, he is automatically placed in the Grade-C category, which entitles him to an annual salary of Rs 1 crore. Annual contracts are decided on the basis of recommendations from national selectors, who take into account the player’s performance in the previous year and the role he is expected to play in the following contract period.

Can Dhoni play T20 World Cup?

The head coach of the India cricket team Ravi Shastri recently indicated Dhoni might end his ODI career soon, but he could still find a place in India’s T20 World Cup squad, subject to a good performance in IPL 2020.

Dhoni, who captains Chennai Super Kings (CSK), has had an excellent IPL career, having led his side to the IPL title in three seasons. IPL 2019 was another great one for him. Helped by some of his memorable innings, CSK made it to the final of the tournament, even as its top order did not sparkle in several games. In the 15 matches he played last season, he scored 416 runs at a whopping average of 83.20 and a strike rate of 134.62, with three fifties and the highest score of 84.

Selectors’ take on Dhoni

Outgoing chief selector M S K Prasad has made his stance clear on Dhoni, saying the former captain — the only to have won two World Cup trophies for India — could now be picked up for the national side only on the basis of his performance in domestic cricket. However, Dhoni has not been playing domestic cricket for a while. He did not take part in the Syed Mustaq Ali T20 tournament in December and it is unclear if he will appear in the ongoing Ranji Trophy.

MS Dhoni’s international career

Dhoni is regarded as one of India’s most successful cricket captains. It was under his leadership that India won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, and then the ODI World Cup in 2011. In his 16-year-long international career, Dhoni has played 90 Tests, 350 ODIs and 98 T20s for India. In ODIs, he has scored 10,773 runs at an average of 50.57, with his highest individual score being an unbeaten 183. In T20s, he has scored 1,617 runs at an average of 37.60 and a strike rate of 126.13.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel