BCCI explains the reason for MS Dhoni's inclusion in the T20I squad for NZ series

BCCI explains the reason for MS Dhoni’s inclusion in the T20I squad for NZ series

Dhoni will play all the three limited-overs series in Australia and New Zealand.

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni. (Photo Source: Twitter)

When MS Dhoni was dropped from India’s T20I squads for the series against the Windies and Australia, his future in the shortest format seemed to be uncertain. There were questions even raised whether the former captain would feature in the ICC World Cup scheduled in May-July.

But that the legendary wicketkeeper-batsman is destined to play in his fourth World Cup became clear when he was picked for the T20I series in New Zealand besides the eight ODIs lined up against Australia and New Zealand in January and February. Rishabh Pant, the other wicketkeeper, has been ignored for all the ODIs while he will play the T20Is.

Pant and Dinesh Karthik were picked for the last two T20I series that India played against the Caribbeans and Kangaroos with each taking turns to keep the wickets. Indian captain Virat Kohli even said later that Dhoni had himself offered to give up his berth so that a youngster like Pant could be groomed for the job. “…he (Dhoni) just feels that in the T20 format, someone like Rishabh can get more chances,” Kohli said last month.

But with Dhoni making a return for the limited-over series against Australia and New Zealand and Pant getting axed, new debate and discussion have started coming up. While selection committee convenor Amitabh Chaudhary chose to stay tight-lipped on the matter, a source close to the BCCI said the 37-year-old was picked to ensure that he got enough game time before the ICC World Cup.

India are left with 13 ODIs to play before they take on South Africa in their first game of the mega tournament on June 5.

“Since there are only eight ODIs (three against Australia and five against New Zealand), selectors want to give MS as much game time as possible (before the World Cup). Three T20Is means 11 international matches through the next one month,” agencies quoted a BCCI official as saying on the condition of anonymity.

Australia will be playing five ODIs in India in February and March, marking India’s final 50-over series before the World Cup.

Pant to play England Lions at home

Chief selector MSK Prasad, meanwhile, told the media in Melbourne that Pant will be playing for India ‘A’ against the visiting England Lions in five ODIs in January which he said will give the young wicket-keeper a good game time ahead of the World Cup. Karthik though has been retained for all the series that Pant will miss.

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