Dhoni pulls out of WI tour, takes two-month break

Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni Saturday made himself “unavailable” for the tour of West Indies but ruled out immediate retirement a day before the selectors meet in Mumbai to pick the squads for the upcoming away series.

Amid mounting speculation around his international retirement after India’s semi-final exit from the recent World Cup, Dhoni has told the BCCI that he will take a two-month sabbatical from the game to serve his paramilitary regiment.

Dhoni is an Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Parachute Regiment of the Territorial Army,

“We would like to clarify three things. MS Dhoni is not retiring from cricket right now. He is taking a two month sabbatical to serve his paramilitary regiment which he had committed much earlier. We have now intimated his decision to skipper Virat Kohli and chairman of selectors MSK Prasad,” a senior BCCI official told PTI on Saturday.

The 38-year-old Dhoni’s refusal to take retirement now leaves the ball in the court of the selectors, who were expected to drop him from the squad for the West Indies. India will play three T20 Internationals, as many ODIs and two Tests in the tour starting August 3.

It is believed that the selection committee chaired by MSK Prasad wants to move forward with an eye on future but they would also like to get a sense of where the Indian captain stands on this issue.

“The selection committee has always been clear on one issue. They have no right to tell anyone irrespective of their stature as to when they should call it quits but when it comes to team selection, it remains their domain,” a senior BCCI official said.

With Dhoni pulling out of the tour, Rishabh Pant is expected to be first wicketkeeper in all three formats while Wriddhiman Saha will be Pant’s understudy in the Tests. From now, the focus will be more on T20 cricket keeping the World T20 in mind, which is scheduled to be held in Australia next year.