Veteran wicketkpeeper batsman MS Dhoni has most likely played his final ODI in India. The third game of the five-match ODI series against Australia in Ranchi was a special occasion for Dhoni as he was playing in front of his home crowd.
Already there was speculation that it was probably Dhoni’s last ODI, maybe even international game, at home. The game ended in defeat for India as Virat Kohli’s ton chasing 314 went on vain.
Dhoni himself could only manage 26 off 42 balls as India fell short by 32 runs. After the match, batting coach Sanjay Bangar revealed Dhoni will be rested for the final two ODI matches of the series with Rishabh Pant set to take over.
“There will be some changes because Mahi (Dhoni) is not going to play the final two matches. He is taking rest,” Bangar was quoted as saying. “Also, (Mohammed) Shami hurt his leg so we will need to check whether he can be fit. If he does not get fit then Bhuvneshwar Kumar could come in.”
With the IPL set to start on March 23 and the World Cup soon after, it seems the Ranchi ODI was it was Dhoni in India as far as ODIs are concerned. How long Dhoni continues in international cricket after the World Cup in England remains to be seen; the veteran quit Test cricket and gave up captaincy before being pushed to do it.
India wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant has landed the second best central contract in a new list announced by the Indian cricket board, in recognition of his stellar show across formats.
The 21-year-old was handed an ‘A’ grade contract, which guarantees 50 million rupees (Dh2.6m) a year. He is among 11 players who have been given the ‘A’ grade contract. Three players – skipper Virat Kohli, opener Rohit Sharma and pacer Jasprit Bumrah – have been given the ‘A plus’ contract which pays them 70 million rupees (Dh3.6m).
Opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan and seam bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar have both been downgraded to ‘A’ grade after the former’s loss of form and the latter’s prolonged injury layoff.
Pant has made a stellar start to his international cricket, smashing record centuries during the Test series in England and later Australia.
Meanwhile, Test opener Murali Vijay has been removed from the list entirely after a horror run in Tests. His place in the team has gone to Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal.
Grade A+: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah
Grade A: R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav, Rishabh Pant
Grade B: KL Rahul, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya
Grade C: Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Hanuma Vihari, Khaleel Ahmed, Wriddhiman Saha
India will be aiming to seal the five-match ODI series when they take on Australia in the third game in Ranchi on Friday.
However, all eyes will be on veteran wicketkeeper MS Dhoni who might be playing his final international game in front of his home crowd.
India are 2-0 up and will hope to ‘gift’ Dhoni a memorable series win.
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