In this file photo taken on July 8, 2019, India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni looks on after a session in the nets as he takes part in a training session at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England. Picture: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR / AFP
In this file photo taken on July 8, 2019, India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni looks on after a session in the nets as he takes part in a training session at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England. Picture: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR / AFP

New Delhi — The Indian cricket board signalled it is ready for life without Mahendra Singh Dhoni after dropping the long-serving wicketkeeper from its list of centrally contracted players on Thursday.

The former captain quit Test cricket in 2014 and has not played for India since taking a break after the team’s semifinals exit at the 50-overs World Cup in England in 2019.

Coach Ravi Shastri said recently that Dhoni, who will turn 39 in July, could be considered for the 2020 Twenty20 World Cup in Australia. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), however, seemed to have made up its mind and Dhoni, who has stonewalled retirement talk in his rare media interactions, was conspicuous by his absence in the 27-player list.

In the new list, captain Virat Kohli, opener Rohit Sharma and pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah have retained their place in the A+ grade, worth $986,923 a year. The 11 players grouped in the A grade with retainers of $700,000 include Rishabh Pant, who is seen as Dhoni’s successor in limited-overs cricket.

Test wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha was promoted to grade B where he joins opener Mayank Agarwal and three others who will earn 30-million rupees each. The final group comprises eight players with retainers of $420,000 for the period from October 2019 to September 2020.

Dhoni, who was in grade A in the previous list, remains India’s most successful limited-overs captain who led the team to World Cup victories both in the 20-overs (2007) and 50-overs (2011) formats. Dinesh Karthik, Khaleel Ahmed and Ambati Rayudu also missed out on a contract.

Reuters