Dhoni, Ashwin and Pujara in Corporate Trophy squads
MS Dhoni, Cheteshwar Pujara and R Ashwin, who are not part of next week's Irani Cup match, may end up playing in the Raj Singh Dungarpur Corporate Trophy, which is not even recognised as a List A event*.
On a leaflet circulated by the BCCI to all the four staging associations, Pujara's name appears in the Indian Oil squad, and those of Dhoni and Ashwin in India Cements'. Their names' appearing on the leaflet is no guarantee they will play the Corporate Trophy, but apart from Dhoni's case, who hinted at wanting rest, no explanation has been given for not picking Pujara and Ashwin for the marquee Irani Cup first-class match.
This also confirms that Dhoni has switched clubs from Air India to India Cements. India Cements is the company that owns the IPL Chennai Super Kings franchise, which Dhoni has captained since 2008, and has BCCI president N Srinivasan as its vice-chairman and managing director. The leaflet, made accessible to ESPNcricinfo on Tuesday, listed Dhoni as the 16th name in the India Cements squad. The leaflet also includes the names Wasim Jaffer, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Aditya Tare, who will be first-choice players for Ranji champions Mumbai.
When asked about Dhoni's move from Air India to India Cements last week, his manager Arun Pandey had denied that he would be playing in the Corporate Trophy. "How can he play Corporate Trophy? He has been playing non-stop cricket for so long," Pandey had said. Dhoni also said, after the final ODI against England, he wanted to make the most of the break he is getting before the Australia series.
Despite several attempts, none of the India Cements officials either confirmed Dhoni's recruitment or his designation as employee of the Chennai-based group. Until this announcement Dhoni had been employed by national carrier Air India. Air India Sports Promotional Board secretary Dilip Pinge confirmed Dhoni was no longer employed by them. "He used to be employed with [the airline] Indian before it was merged into Air India," Pinge said. "The Delhi office forwarded his resignation letter to us [Mumbai office] around four months ago. As a result, there was no question of considering him for the Corporate Trophy."
The Corporate Trophy features 16 companies taking part in the one of the BCCI's newly revived events, in the memory of their former president Dungarpur. This year's tournament will be played between top employers in India in four cities - Pune, Nagpur, Indore and Raipur - from February 1 to 8. The Irani Cup will be held in Mumbai from February 6 to 10.
*05.50GMT, January 13: This story was updated with news from other squads on the leaflet
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo