Wednesday, 21 August 2019 08:28 GMT
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India's selectors face questions over life after Dhoni




(MENAFN - Arab Times)
MS Dhoni

England's Anderson hopes to face Ireland in Ashes warm-up

MUMBAI, July 20, (RTRS):
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has opted out of India's tour of West Indies as the
selectors embark on their search for his successor once the long-serving
wicketkeeper-batsman hangs up his boots for good.

Dhoni is an honorary lieutenant
colonel in India's territorial army and has pulled out of the tour to serve his
regiment, according to a Press Trust of India report carried by local media.

'Dhoni has made himself
unavailable for the tour of West Indies as he will be spending two months with
his paramilitary regiment,' the report quoted an unidentified Indian cricket
board (BCCI) source as saying.

Finding a replacement for Dhoni
will top the agenda when India's selectors meet in Mumbai on Sunday to pick the
squad for the tour of West Indies.

Dhoni,
who turned 38 this month during the Cricket World Cup, enjoys cult status in
the cricket-mad country after he captained the side to the World Twenty20 title
in 2007 and their second 50-over World Cup title in 2011 at home.

The veteran of 350 one-dayers,
however, has been the subject of intense speculation on his retirement from
international cricket over the past few days since India's semifinal exit from
the World Cup.

Dhoni, who quit playing Tests at
the end of 2014, has not provided even a hint of what his plans are but he
enjoys unwavering support from India captain Virat Kohli who has publicly
backed him on numerous occasions.

'He is not retiring from cricket
right now. He is taking a two month sabbatical to serve his paramilitary
regiment which he had committed much earlier,' the BCCI official said.

Widely considered as the best
'finisher' in contemporary cricket, Dhoni has recently struggled to start his
innings while his ability to put bowlers to the sword at the end has also been
on the wane.

Dhoni's glovework, however, still
remains top class and questions have been raised by former cricketers, pundits
and local media if it was the right time for him to step away and help India
groom his successor.

The
next 50-over World Cup is still four years away but the World Twenty20 will be
held in 2020, leaving chief selector M.S.K. Prasad and his colleagues to plan
for the tournament in Australia.

India will play three T20s, three
ODIs and two Tests in the Caribbean and the tour will provide the opportunity
for the selectors to also test the fringe players while resting some who play
all three formats for the team.

The team have also failed to nail
down the number four batting position in the limited overs sides, something
that hurt them during the World Cup, and a new set of batsmen are expected to
audition for the spot.

All-rounder Vijay Shankar, who
was initially given the nod, left the World Cup through injury while K.L. Rahul
had to move up to open the innings when Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out with a
fractured thumb.

 India's Test wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, the
favourite to fill in Dhoni's shoes in the limited overs formats, slotted into
the role during the latter stages of the World Cup, while Manish Pandey,
Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill are also in the mix.

Meanwhile, England paceman James
Anderson is recovering well from a calf muscle tear and could be fit for the
one-off Test match against Ireland starting on Wednesday, failing which the
36-year-old will target next month's Ashes series against Australia.

England's leading wicket-taker
was named in their squad for the four-day contest at Lord's – their first
against Ireland – despite picking up the injury in a County Championship match
earlier this month.

'We meet on Monday and at the
moment I feel good,' Anderson, who has 575 wickets from 148 Tests, told the
BBC.

'I
will keep bowling and we will monitor it. If it comes to Wednesday and I'm fit
to play then great, but if not I will work towards being fit for the Ashes.'

The first Ashes Test begins at
Edgbaston on Aug 1, with Joe Root's side looking to regain the coveted urn on
home soil after losing 4-0 away in 2017-18.

They head into the five-match
series on the back of their maiden 50-overs World Cup triumph last week but
Anderson said they had to put celebrations on the backburner and completely
focus on red-ball cricket.

'We realise the dangers that the
Australian team bring to test cricket, so we're going to have to be fully
focused on that,' Anderson added.

'We
can't afford to hang on to the World Cup win. It's our job as English
cricketers to try and carry that momentum on and hopefully an Ashes win will do
that.'

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India's selectors face questions over life after Dhoni

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