MS Dhoni’s self-imposed break from international cricket could be extended further if the latest reports from India are to be believed.
According to a report by the Mumbai Mirror, the India veteran wicketkeeper has extended his break from the international game to November and will likely not be available for the three-match T20 series against Bangladesh at home.
The 38-year-old has been away from cricket since the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup in England and played no part in India’s subsequent tour of the West Indies and the recently concluded T20 series against South Africa.
While Dhoni has been away from the limelight, India’s selectors have opted to groom Rishabh Pant as the wicketkeeper in all three formats with the youngster taking the gloves in both T20 series against Windies and South Africa.
Dhoni’s international future has been subject to intense speculation since India’s exit in the semi-final of the World Cup with the next major ICC tournament (2020 T20 World Cup) still being over a year away.
The veteran wicketkeeper-batsman has been away from the media scrutiny since returning from England but has not stopped the Indian team management from being bombarded with questions pertaining to his future.
Skipper Virat Kohli recently stated that Dhoni remains a valuable asset for the team as long as he ‘available’ while chief selector MSK Prasad has denied reports of a retirement being on the cards for the veteran.
India are slated to play three T20s against Bangladesh at the start of November and it now remains to be seen whether Dhoni returns for the home limited-overs clashes against West Indies in December this year.
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India’s gung-ho batting effort in the third and final T20 against South Africa at Bengaluru failed to pay off but skipper Virat Kohli has vowed to not drop that approach in the lead up to the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia.
Kohli and his men were dealt a nine-wicket loss by the visitors on Sunday after they were restricted to a modest total of 134-9 at the Chinnaswamy stadium. This came after Kohli won the toss and opted to bat first at a venue where chasing teams have dominated historically.
Despite generating a decent start which saw them race away to 62-1, India’s batsmen faltered greatly in the latter half of the innings in a bid to force the run-scoring rate. While that adventurous approach cost the hosts a chance to win the series against South Africa, Kohli is more than happy for the team to stepped out of its ‘comfort zone’.
“We wanted to go for a big score and that’s exactly why we batted first,” Kohli told broadcasters Star Sports after the loss.
“In the past, in certain games in T20 cricket, we have been 20-30 runs short, batting first. That has cost us the game. So, the idea again, as I said at the toss, was to come out of our comfort zone and then try to get that big score because we are batting till number nine.
“These kinds of games will keep happening as long as we are wanting to come out of our comfort zones as a team and putting ourselves in a situation, which could be the case in a big game in a big tournament.”
India’s modest total failed to trouble the Proteas who chased down the target with more than three overs and nine wickets to spare in the end. Despite the unflattering scoreline, Kohli remains committed to taking a risky approach in the format with the World Cup just over a year away.
“Nothing is a given or a guarantee before you start playing,” Kohli stated.
“I think if we as a team are willing to get out of our comfort zones a lot more, then we will be unfazed with what happens at the toss. That’s why we have people batting till nine.
“Unless you do that and start taking those risks, you are always going to be put under pressure somewhere or the other. We want to make sure we iron all of those things out before we head into the World Cup.”
Kohli and India will now turn their attentions to a three-match Test series against the same opposition which begins at Visakhapatnam on October 2.
The hosts lead the three-match series by 1-0 after their seven-wicket win in the second T20I at Mohali while the opening clash at Dharamsala was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
It will be a second straight T20 series clean sweep for India if they can attain the win following their 3-0 thumping of West Indies in the Caribbean last month.
Will the Proteas be able to salvage the series under stand-in skipper Quinton de Kock or will the hosts prove too good once again? Find out by following the ball-by-ball LIVE updates from Bengaluru below.