Dhoni (2)

Dhoni's T20 World Cup inclusion rests on IPL performance, says Shastri

Having been on sabbatical since India's semi-final exit at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019, MS Dhoni will now have to take the IPL route back to the Indian side, ahead of next year's T20 World Cup in Australia.

India have played three T20I series and one ODI series since the 50-over World Cup in England, and with the former skipper having taken no part in any of them, speculation over his future has been rampant.

Now, with the next major ICC event less than a year away, preparations are on as India seek to firm up their best combination for the event, and coach Ravi Shastri said that the 2020 Indian Premier League would give the management and selection committee a fair idea of whether Dhoni fits into their plans for the tournament.

MS Dhoni was last seen during India's World Cup semi-final defeat to New Zealand
MS Dhoni was last seen during India's World Cup semi-final defeat to New Zealand

"It all depends on when he starts playing and how he is playing during the IPL," Shastri told IANS. "What are the other people doing with the wicketkeeping gloves or what is the form of those players as opposed to Dhoni's form? The IPL becomes a massive tournament because that could be the last tournament after which more or less your 15 is decided."

Dhoni has been a strong force for the three-time champions Chennai Super Kings, especially in the last two editions, where he has aggregated 871 runs at an impressive average of 79.18, while striking at 144.44. He led CSK to their third title win in 2018, before they finished runners-up after a narrow one-run defeat to Mumbai Indians in the 2019 final. In T20Is in the same period, Dhoni has scored 253 runs at 42.16, but his strike-rate, which dropped to 116.07 in five innings in 2019, might be worrying.

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But Shastri said that the IPL would help clear up the muddle.

"There might be one player who might be there and thereabouts in case of an injury or whatever. But your team, I would say, would be known after the IPL. What I would say is rather than speculating of who is where, wait for the IPL to get over and then you are in a position to take a call on who are the best 17 in the country."