India vs New Zealand T20I series: BCCI source explains the reason behind the return of MS Dhoni to the New Zealand series, while the selectors opted to drop Rishabh Pant.
The grand news for Indian cricket fans ahead of the Christmas was BCCI announcing the return of Mahendra Singh Dhoni to the T20I squad for the three-match series against New Zealand slated to be played in February next year. However, BCCI later explained the reason behind bringing back Dhoni while resting Rishabh Pant who had filled in for the veteran cricketer in the last two T20I series.
Dhoni was dropped from the T20I series against West Indies and Australia with the selectors giving the opportunity to Pant and Dinesh Karthik to prove their worth. Indian skipper Virat Kohli had later clarified that Dhoni had offered to give up the slot so that Pant can be groomed for the job. “…he (Dhoni) just feels that in the T20 format, someone like Rishabh can get more chances,” Kohli had said last month.
However, Dhoni has now been recalled for the New Zealand series while also being included for the twin ODI series against Australia (starting January 12) and New Zealand (starting January 23).
“With regard to MS (Dhoni), we categorically told that he is going to be rested for those six matches so that we can give more time to Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant. So that is the very reason and now they have played quite a few matches so we thought we should now bring back Dhoni into the squad,” Prasad told reporters in Melbourne.
While, convenor of the selection committee, Amitabh Chaudhary stayed tight-lipped over the matter, a source close to BCCI justified Dhoni’s selection as getting “enough game-time” before the ODI World Cup 2019.
“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,” a BCCI official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
Meanwhile, Pant has not been included in the twin ODI series as well as the youngster will come back from Australia Test series to play five ODIs against England Lions in India from January 23. Karthik, however, stays in the mix for both the ODIs and the T20I contest.
India’s squad for T20I series against New Zealand: Virat Kohli(Capt), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (WK), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed.