Mumbai: Mahendra Singh Dhoni may not have announced his retirement from limited-overs cricket yet, but it seems the BCCI selectors have started looking beyond him. Dhoni has skipped the entire West Indies tour to take a two-month break to serve his regiment in the paramilitary forces.
Selectors on Sunday made it clear that they want to groom his potential successor Rishabh Pant.
Dhoni has been criticised for low strike rate while batting in recent times and his lack of intent during the course of the World Cup especially against England in the league game and against New Zealand in the semi-final affected his finisher image.
The emergence of Rishabh Pant and other available young talent in KS Bharat, Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan are considered as possible replacements to Dhoni.
While they sent a clear message by dropping Dinesh Karthik from limited-overs squad, chairman of selectors MSK Prasad said the call on retirement would be Dhoni’s individual decision.
“A legendary cricketer like Dhoni, he knows when to retire. First of all he is not available. Second, we have already started grooming youngsters. Post World Cup, we have laid down a few more plans and we thought of giving as many opportunities as possible to Pant and to see, he is groomed. That is our plan right now and we did discuss this with him (Dhoni),” Prasad said.
Pant grabbed the spot in Tests after Wriddhiman Saha got injured last year. Saha was the first choice after Dhoni’s Test retirement in December 2014. Prasad also revealed that KS Bharat was close to a Test call-up.
“It is a norm that when a senior or established player makes a comeback from injury, he is given a chance in the team. So that’s how we have given a comeback opportunity to Wriddhiman Saha. But, I can tell with the stellar performances that KS Bharat has been doing in India A. He was very close to making the cut in longer format,” Prasad said.