Did it really happen?
MS Dhoni. Dropped. Raise your hand if you ever thought Dhoni was that rare Indian cricketer who would never let it come down to this and would see the signs. The selectors can put whatever positive spin they want to, but if you are not retired, if you are fit, if you play as little cricket as Dhoni does, there is no other way of putting it: he has been dropped.
Of all the Indian cricketers, you would have thought Dhoni would be the last one to become too attached to his position. He knows all too well it is near impossible for selectors to drop legends in India. They usually wait for their retirement except if the slide becomes too long. Dhoni has shown he is all too human, and has forced the selectors to make the call. His 2019 World Cup slot remains certain, but the World T20 in 2020 could feature a new wicketkeeper.
It will also turn focus on how much cricket Dhoni now plays outside internationals because he is not in the best form and he hardly gets enough balls to play himself back into form. Happy days for Jharkhand?
Spare a thought for
Mayank Agarwal, who virtually broke the door down leave alone knocking it with a truckload of runs, but didn't get a chance in the XI in the West Indies series. M Vijay's experience seems to have beaten him to a spot on the Australia tour. With Prithvi Shaw already in there, perhaps two inexperienced openers was too much of a punt.
Karun Nair. Six Tests on the sidelines. Out without a match. He is out of the A side for the first game in New Zealand. You can only hope this has nothing to do with his interview in which he said he was not informed why he was not being selected in the XI.
Rohit Sharma, dropped after a dismal South Africa tour at the start of year, and back without playing a first-class match since. And it's not as if he's set the Test stage alight since the early West Indies centuries.
This selection says two things. Rohit has got the natural talent - and indeed the back-foot play - for the selectors to be able to punt on him like the England selectors did on Jos Buttler. The other unfortunate message is that neither the team management nor the selectors see enough quality in the batsmen who rack up the runs in Indian first-class cricket.
Dasgupta: Dhoni's omission a sign of the coming future
Deep Dasgupta feels MS Dhoni's absence from India's T20I squads suggests that he might not be in the selectors' long-term plans
As much as objective fairness matters, selection is also a subjective exercise. You would hope they have got it right finally after swinging wildly on Rohit, the only A-plus contracted player to have been dropped altogether from one format for a major part of the year.
Five bowlers? With Hardik Pandya not fit, and with batting having been popularly identified as India's weak link, it seems India will be playing six batsmen in Australia. Unless they play Ravindra Jadeja as the allrounder.
Shahbaz Nadeem. Krunal Pandya. To the T20I sides. Krunal, especially, is an interesting pick as the spin-bowling allrounder ahead of Jadeja, who made his ODI comeback recently. This is just reward for consistent performances in the IPL. For Nadeem it is that one chance with the dream of an India career becoming more and more distant every passing year. With Dhoni out, with new spinners and allrounders being tried, the selectors are finally showing they have some direction for the T20I side.
What did you say again, Mr Selector?
His foot must be his favourite body part, because MSK Prasad keeps putting it in his mouth. After having decided Dhoni was going to play Vijay Hazare knockouts, only for Dhoni to prove him wrong, Prasad went on the truth-or-false game with Kedar Jadhav. After the selection for the first two ODIs against West Indies, Prasad said the injured Jadhav will come back for the rest of the series. Jadhav was then flown in to Delhi to play a Deodhar game, having proved his fitness, on the day of the selection.
When Jadhav, who said he had cleared all fitness tests and then proved it in match conditions, was shocked at not being picked, Prasad said he had left Jadhav out because of his dubious fitness history. A day later, Jadhav has been added to the fourth and fifth matches having done nothing else in the interim to prove his fitness. "He has demonstrated his fitness in the Deodhar game," Prasad said 24 hours after saying one match was not enough for Jadhav to be cleared fit. In the bargain, Jadhav has lost out on a chance to represent India at his home venue.