Mahendra Singh Dhoni is unlikely to play for India again even if he has a fabulous IPL season for Chennai Super Kings, feels Harbhajan Singh, reacting to the news of former skipper being dropped from the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) list of centrally contracted players. (More Cricket News)
Dhoni was in the category A during last season but has been on a self-imposed sabbatical since India's World Cup semi-final loss against New Zealand in July last year.
"I don't think he (Dhoni) is going to play for India again as he had decided that he will play (only) till the (2019) World Cup. He must be preparing for the IPL," Harbhajan told PTI when asked if the iconic former skipper will play in World T20 since he has already started training.
Head coach Ravi Shastri had hinted that clarity on Dhoni's future will only be available after IPL where the former skipper is known to give more than hundred per cent.
Asked what are the chances of Dhoni making it to India's World T20 team on the basis of a good IPL, Harbhajan said: "I am fully confident that Dhoni will have a great IPL for CSK. But having said that I don't think he will play for India even if he has a great IPL.
What if Rishabh has a great IPL? Would you drop him (Pant) from the playing XI," said Harbhajan, India's third-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket.
The BCCI on Thursday announced the mens contract for the period of October 2019 to September 2020 and the major omission was former skipper Dhoni.
While eyebrows were raised if this meant the end of the road for the Man with the Midas Touch, it has come to the fore that the door to the Indian team is still open for the best finisher India produced.
Speaking to IANS, a BCCI official said that the central contract has nothing to do with playing for the country and till the time Dhoni announces his retirement, he is free to perform and stake a claim in the Indian team.
"Let's get the facts right. A contract isn't the ultimate authority on whether you can play for the country or not. Regular players are given a contract and to be honest, Dhoni hasn't played for the national team since the 2019 World Cup. So, he wasn't named in the contract.
"If someone sees this as the end of the road or some hint from the selectors, it isn't the case.
"He can still perform and get back into the national team if he wants and that includes playing for India in the T20 World Cup. The central contract honestly has no relation to Dhoni's India future.
"In the past also you have had players without a contract playing for the country and you will see that in the future as well. Assuming things don't help," the official explained.
According to the BCCI statement, the central contract has skipper Virat Kohli, limited-overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma and pace ace Jasprit Bumrah in the Grade A+ category like the last cycle. But Dhoni, who was in the A category last time, has been given a miss.
(With inputs from agencies)