While the national selectors remain unclear about MS Dhoni’s international future after India’s exit from the World Cup, they are planning to rest him in any case for India’s next international assignment – a tour of the West Indies starting on August 3 with three T20 internationals. The team is also scheduled to play three ODIs and two Tests. CricketNext has also learnt that several other players including skipper Virat Kohli and pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah as well as all-rounder Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar could also be given a break.
The selection committee will meet in Mumbai on either July 17 or 18 to pick the squads. Chairman of selectors MSK Prasad will be returning to Mumbai along with the rest of the Indian squad on Sunday (July 14).
“Dhoni has been playing non-stop cricket for the last three months, starting with leading Chennai Super Kings in IPL-12. He had been struggling with his back but didn’t let that affect his performance and then carried a finger injury in the second half of the tournament as well. In fact, Dhoni has injured the hand again off delivery he was run out against New Zealand. The selectors will look to give him some rest, looking at the packed international calendar for next year,” a senior BCCI official informed CricketNext.
“Kohli and Bumrah might be rested for the limited-overs series and possibly even the Test matches. A call on their availability for the Tests will be taken later,” the official added.
In Dhoni’s absence, the selectors are likely to stick with Rishabh Pant. The Delhi wicketkeeper was in fact part of India A’s tour to West Indies, before he was called up as replacement for injured Shikhar Dhawan. Pandya was struggling with a hip injury in India’s semifinal against New Zealand on Wednesday (July 10). He went off the field to get some treatment before coming back to complete his quota of overs as well as bat in India’s chase. Paceman Bhuvneshwar was also struggling with a hamstring injury which ruled him out of three games in the World Cup.
“The selectors have enough back up options in the form of Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini or even Deepak Chahar to replace Bhuvneshwar,” the official added.
If Kohli is rested for the entire West Indies series, Rohit Sharma is expected to lead the side in ODIs and Ajinkya Rahane might be asked to captain the Test side. The selectors will speak to the team management including Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri before taking a final call.