India veteran MS Dhoni has once again been included in India’s T20I squad while young Rishabh Pant has been dropped from the ODI side for the upcoming series against Australia and New Zealand in January 2019.
Dhoni’s inclusion in the T20I squad came as a surprise to many as the selectors had dropped him from the series against West Indies and Australia, just a month ago.
Meanwhile, Pant’s exclusion from the ODI squad is an indication that the 23-year-old is currently not in the team management’s scheme of things for the 2019 ICC World Cup.
When asked about Dhoni’s inclusion in the shortest format the chief selector MSK Prasad said that the selection panel wants to ensure the 37-year-old gets ‘enough game-time’ before the ODI World Cup.
“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,” Prasad said.
The 16-member squad for the ODI series against Australia (starting January 12) and New Zealand (starting January 23) is pretty much the core team for the World Cup in England that begins from May 30.
The three T20Is against the Blackcaps will start from February 6. The selections decision to bring back Dhoni is set to raise a few eyebrows as the logic given before the Australia T20s was that he was not going to be in the scheme of things for the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia.
“Now since Kedar (Jadhav) and Hardik (Pandya) are fit and Kedar being an off-break bowler, it will be difficult for the team management to fit in Rishabh in playing XI in the World Cup unless someone gets injured. Already Dinesh Karthik and KL Rahul are there in case MS gets injured.”
“With regard to Rishabh (Pant), the intensity in which we are playing right now after this series we want to keep him fresh and give him a break. He will have a very good game time 5 ODIs against the visiting England Lions,” Prasad added.