The addition of two new members, including the chairman, in the national selection committee has not changed the panel’s stance on M S Dhoni, who will “have to perform” in the upcoming Indian Premier League to be considered for T20 World Cup selection.
The Sunil Joshi-led selection panel met for the first time in Ahmedabad on Sunday to pick a rather “straightforward” squad for the three ODIs against South Africa beginning in Dharamsala on March 12.
Fit-again Hardik Pandya, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Shikhar Dhawan made their way back into the side.
Joshi’s predecessor MSK Prasad had made it clear that the team has moved on from Dhoni and he has to first play to be considered for selection. Dhoni, who has not played since the World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand in July, will be making his highly awaited comeback in the IPL beginning March 29.
“It was a pretty straightforward selection meeting and since Dhoni was obviously not in the reckoning this time (for South Africa series), there was no formal talk about his future,” a BCCI source has said. “He will be back in the reckoning only if he has a good IPL. And why only him, there are so many senior and young players who will play in the IPL. If they do well, they are ought to be considered too. So, you could see some surprise inclusions,” he said.
The T20 World Cup will be played in Australia in October-November and the games India play after the IPL leading up to the mega event will also be a factor in the final squad selection.
“But the performance in the IPL could be the clincher,” the source added.
Head coach Ravi Shastri too has hinted that Dhoni could be back after a good IPL but his future remains a subject of intense speculation as he has not played a game in more than seven months.
With his heir apparent Rishabh Pant not setting the world on fire and K L Rahul being groomed into a full-time wicketkeeper-batsman, Dhoni’s comeback cannot be ruled out. His countless fans will finally get to see him in action when he leads Chennai Super Kings against defending champions Mumbai Indians in the IPL opener at Wankhede Stadium on March 29.