Dhoni left out of T20s, tricky road ahead

India has only 17 limited-overs internationals before the World Cup in 2019; enough for Dhoni to stay in the groove for the big ticket event?

Rishabh Pant received his ODI cap from former India skipper M. S. Dhoni.   -  BCCI

M. S. Dhoni, India's 2007 World T20-winning captain, being left out of the T20 squads for the series against the West Indies and Australia appears to point to a change of guard in Indian cricket. Rishabh Pant, who received his ODI cap from Dhoni in Guwahati earlier this month, has been named as the first-choice wicketkeeper in both the squads, which also feature Dinesh Karthik.

"The T20Is here and in Australia, he [Dhoni] is not going to play, because we are also looking at a second wicketkeeper. That will be between Rishabh and Dinesh Karthik. So they will be getting a chance to keep and bat," the chairman of Indian selectors, M. S. K. Prasad, said after announcing three India and India A squads on Friday. 

This axing means Dhoni might not play any competitive cricket after the ODI series against the Windies for more than a couple of months until mid-January, which does not bode well for him or the Indian team aiming to have all its players in top form for a shot at winning the World Cup in 2019.

Matches Dhoni will miss

DateMatch
Nov 4India vs Windies 1st T20I
Nov 6India vs Windies 2nd T20I
Nov 11India vs Windies 3rd T20I
Nov 21India vs Australia 1st T20I
Nov 23India vs Australia 2nd T20I
Nov 25India vs Australia 3rd T20I

Dhoni hasn't played a Ranji Trophy match for Jharkhand since retiring from Test cricket in December 2014. 

Presuming he is named in the India squad for the three ODIs against Australia, followed by eight limited-overs internationals against New Zealand (five ODIs and three T20Is), Dhoni will return to India colours only on January 12.

Prasad has assured that the door is not closed on a Dhoni return to the India T20 squad. This will be clear only when the squad for New Zealand T20Is is announced. 

India has only 17 limited-overs internationals — three more ODIs against the Windies, three T20Is and three ODIs against Australia, followed by a five-match ODI and a three-match T20I series against New Zealand — before it gets its 2019 World Cup campaign underway against South Africa on June 5.

India's limited-overs internationals before World Cup

DateMatch
Nov 4India vs Windies 1st T20I
Nov 6India vs Windies 2nd T20I
Nov 11India vs Windies 3rd T20I
Nov 21India vs Australia 1st T20I
Nov 23India vs Australia 2nd T20I
Nov 25India vs Australia 3rd T20I
Jan 12India vs Australia 1st ODI
Jan 15India vs Australia 2nd ODI
Jan 18India vs Australia 3rd ODI
Jan 23India vs New Zealand 1st ODI
Jan 26India vs New Zealand 2nd ODI
Jan 28India vs New Zealand 3rd ODI
Jan 31India vs New Zealand 4th ODI
Feb 3India vs New Zealand 5th ODI
Feb 6India vs New Zealand 1st T20I
Feb 8India vs New Zealand 2nd T20I
Feb 10India vs New Zealand 3rd T20I