Mahendra Singh Dhoni may have put his international retirement on hold but he is unlikely to be selected for India’s three-match T20 International series against South Africa, starting on September 15 in Dharamsala.
The team for the series is expected to be picked on September 4. The remaining two games will be played at Mohali (September 18) and Bengaluru (September 22).
In all likelihood, the squad that defeated West Indies 3-0 is likely to be retained (subject to fitness) and the selection committee wants to continue building towards the World T20 in Australia in October 2020.
“There are only 22 T20 Internationals before India play their first World T20 game and the selectors are clear in their vision that it’s time to move forward,” said a senior Board of Control for Cricket in India official privy to the developments.“They are planning on getting a pool of three wicketkeepers ready for the limited overs, especially T20Is,” he added.
It is still not clear whether the BCCI brass or the selection committee will speak to Dhoni to enquire about his plans like they did before the West Indies tour when the former captain informed that he would be taking a break to serve his regiment in the Territorial Army.
“Retirement is an individual decision and the selectors, or for that matter no one, has any right to decide on that front. But they have every right to decide the roadmap for the 2020 World T20 and that’s to give Rishabh Pant maximum chances,” the official explained.
It is learnt that the second and third option for the selection committee is Sanju Samson, whose batting is considered to be on par with Pant, and India A regular Ishan Kishan.
While Pant remains the first choice across formats, the selectors are also factoring in the fitness and workload management.
A few members of the selection committee will be in Thiruvananthapuram for the A series and Samson’s performance will be keenly watched as he has made the squad for the last two List A games.
As far as batting is concerned, the selection committee believes that Samson is ready for top level cricket but his wicketkeeping is still a work in progress.
“Pant scored a fifty in the last T20I that he played. Ishan Kishan is in the A set-up. Do we even have an option of looking back when we need consistent big hitters on big Australian grounds?” the official questioned.