No T20 World Cup in 2020: What happens to MS Dhoni's much-speculated international comeback

No T20 World Cup in 2020: What happens to MS Dhoni's much-speculated international comeback

MS Dhoni recently turned 39. The former World Cup-winning India captain has gone more than a year without playing competitive cricket. Nonetheless, Dhoni's international future has been a subject of wide speculation and has dominated discussions around Indian cricket over the last few months.

MS Dhoni had kept mum about his future and even told a group of reporters not to ask him anything until January 2020 when he was quizzed about it late last year. However, more than half of 2020 has gone by and only speculations and rumours are doing rounds. Apart from his wife Sakshi Dhoni's strongly-worded rebuttal of the latest round of rumours of him retiring, there is no clarity around the much-talked-about subject.

Dhoni was not part of the central contracts list announced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in January. The former India captain took a sabbatical right after the World Cup and joined the Territorial Army in Jammu, training with the 106 TA (Para) Battalion for 2 weeks.

Dhoni skipped the home season of 2020 and also missed India's tour of New Zealand earlier this year. During the time away from the sport, Dhoni spent time with his family, being on vacations and enjoying the break at his hometown. Dhoni made rare off-field appearances and was also spotted in the Team India dressing room during a Test match in Ranchi against South Africa last year.

Dhoni signalled his intentions when he joined and led a Chennai Super Kings' pre-Indian Premier League 2020 training camp in March. However, the camp was called off due to the novel coronavirus pandemic before the IPL was suspended until further notice. Dhoni had trained in the lead up to IPL 2020 but with the T20 league missing the April-May window, uncertainty over his future has only grown.

On Monday, the International Cricket Council (ICC) officially confirmed the postponement of T20 World Cup 2020 due to the pandemic. The tournament, which was scheduled to be held in October-November in Australia, was moved to 2022 with India having the hosting rights for the tournament in 2021.

It was expected that MS Dhoni would put himself back in contention before the T20 World Cup in 2020. The IPL 2020 was expected to be the path back to international cricket for Dhoni.

The postponement of the T20 World Cup has come as a setback to Dhoni's chances of returning to international cricket. Dhoni would be 40 by the time the next T20 World Cup is played in October-November 2021.

Even as a few of his former teammates, including Harbhajan Singh, had said Dhoni played his last international match at the 2019 World Cup, the Indian team management did not rule out chances of his comeback to international cricket.

India head coach Ravi Shastri, in January, said Dhoni would end his ODI career soon but that the team management will be open to considering him for the T20 World Cup "if he has a cracking IPL". BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had said 'champions don't finish quickly' when he was asked about Dhoni's future in October last year.