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‘MS Dhoni not retiring from cricket now,’ says top BCCI official – Report

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MS Dhoni, the former India captain, on Saturday made himself “unavailable” for India’s tour of West Indies which gave rise to the ‘has Dhoni retired?’ question but much to the relief of his billions of fans, Dhoni has ruled out immediate retirement a day before the selectors meet in Mumbai to pick the three squads for the upcoming away series, starting on August 3.

Amid mounting speculation around his international retirement after India’s semi-final exit from the recent World Cup, Dhoni has told the BCCI that he will take a two-month sabbatical from the game to serve his paramilitary regiment.

Dhoni is an Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Parachute Regiment of the Territorial Army, “We would like to clarify three things. MS Dhoni 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. We have now intimated his decision to skipper Virat Kohli and chairman of selectors MSK Prasad,” a senior BCCI official told PTI on Saturday.

The 38-year-old Dhoni’s refusal to take retirement now leaves the ball in the court of the selectors, who were expected to drop him from the squad for the West Indies. India will play three T20 Internationals, as many ODIs and two Tests in the tour starting August 3. It is believed that the selection committee chaired by MSK Prasad wants to move forward with an eye on future but they would also like to get a sense of where the Indian captain stands on this issue.

“The selection committee has always been clear on one issue. They have no right to tell anyone irrespective of their stature as to when they should call it quits but when it comes to team selection, it remains their domain,” a senior BCCI official said.

With Dhoni pulling out of the tour, Rishabh Pant is expected to be first wicketkeeper in all three formats while Wriddhiman Saha will be Pant’s understudy in the Tests.

From now, the focus will be more on T20 cricket keeping the World T20 in mind, which is scheduled to be held in Australia next year.

India will be playing a lot of bilateral three-match T20 series in run-up to the global meet and with Dhoni expected to play one more season of IPL with Chennai Super Kings, things are a bit tricky at the moment.

There are a few questions that the selectors need to answer.

Whether they see Dhoni playing till World T20? If the answer is yes, are they willing to give him 15 to 18 T20s during the phase as a keeper-batsman? If that answer is also yes, it would boil down to whether skipper Virat Kohli sees him as a batsman in T20s where keeping isn’t the primary skill required.

With Dhoni’s ever-declining hitting abilities, can he come in at Nos 6 or 7 where he might, at best, get 6 to 8 balls in most games and even less in some? If that answer is also yes, the next question that would crop up is if he can hit the likes of Jofra Archer, Jason Behrendorff or Mohammed Amir straightaway in the slog overs. There is a case about Dhoni’s stellar success in death overs at the IPL. He always gets one weak Indian bowler — say a Mohammed Siraj, Harshal Patel or Dhawal Kulkarni or Sandeep Sharma from whom he scores those 15 to 20-run overs.

But would that be possible against a Lockie Ferguson or a Pat Cummins? The current selection committee’s term ends in October when the BCCI elections are scheduled and they would like to put a transition phase in place in consonance with what the captain and the coach want.

However, once the board members take over after the elections and if Dhoni decides to stick with his decision of not retiring, there could be some twists and turns in the coming months.

Till then, all roads lead to the BCCI headquarters on Sunday where Prasad will address the most defining press conference of his eventful tenure.

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Virat Kohli absolutely not what you see on the cricket field, says Adam Zampa

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Indian captain Virat Kohli maybe competitive and even antagonistic at times to his opponents on the field but he is a different person altogether off it, said Australian spinner Adam Zampa.

After years of facing Kohli as an opponent, Zampa got to see what it is like sharing a dressing room with the 32-year-old right-hand batsman in the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL), where Zampa played under Kohli’s captaincy with the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

“He’s absolutely not what you see on the cricket field,” Zampa is quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald. “He always brings his intensity to training and the game; he loves competition, he hates losing as much as anyone. He probably shows it more than anyone.”

“Once he’s off the park, he’s the most chilled guy. He’s watching YouTube clips on the bus, he’ll laugh out loud. There was a cricket clip recently from cricket.com.au, there was a funny run out, he was laughing about it for three weeks’ straight. He loves holding onto jokes like that.”

Zampa said that Kohli had messaged him on WhatApp in his first day with RCB. “Zamps, here’s the $15 off voucher at a vegan restaurant from Deliveroo,” it read. “It’s a really good restaurant.”

“It was the first day I arrived [and] he WhatsApped me,” said Zampa. “I didn’t have his number. He made it as if we’ve known each other forever.”

Zampa has had considerable success against Kohli in limited overs cricket, dismissing the Indian captain seven times but he points out the fact that he has also conceded a lot of runs.

“I’ve got him out seven times, but they’re at a good click; the economy is well and truly over six runs per over as well. It’ll be interesting now we’re closer,” he said.

The pair will face each other again when India’s tour of Australia begins later this month with a three-match ODI and T20I series.

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I am healthy and happy, heart is working good: Kapil Dev after successful angioplasty

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Weeks after spending in hospital undergoing angioplasty, former India cricket captain Kapil Dev on Friday confirmed that he is recovering well and that “his heart is working good.”

Last month, the 1983 World Cup winning captain had suffered a cardiac arrest and subsequently underwent an angioplasty at a private hospital in New Delhi.

“Happy Dipawali to everybody and I hope this year brings lots and lots of happiness to everybody. Thanks for your wishes. I am healthy and happy. Heart is working good but I want to wish everybody lots and lots of happiness around the world,” India’s first World Cup-winning captain said in a video posted on his official Twitter handle.

On Thursday, the 61-year-old got back to the golf course after 20 days of the surgery and shared a video playing the sport with his friends at the Delhi Golf Club.

“You cannot express in words what fun it is to be back on the golf course or a cricket ground. It is beautiful to be back at the golf course, having fun and playing with friends. That’s what life is all about,” Kapil said in the video.

Kapil held the world record for most Test wickets (434) for over six years until it was broken by Courtney Walsh of the West Indies. The other big achievement of Kapil was to lead India to World Cup triumph in 1983, when the team was considered minnows in limited-overs cricket. He played 131 Tests and 225 ODIs between 1978 and 1994.

Meanwhile, earlier on Friday, a photo was shared in which in which the legendary all-rounder is seen flashing a double thumbs up sign from his hospital bed.

In the photo, 61-year-old Kapil’s daughter Amiya is also seen sitting on a chair beside his hospital bed smiling while he is posing for the camera. Kapil, according to a bulletin from Fortis-Escorts Heart Institute Hospital in south Delhi on Friday, was in the Intensive Care Unit and would be discharged in a couple of days.

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Australia will ‘quite easily’ win Border-Gavaskar trophy in absence of Virat Kohli: Michael Vaughan

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Former England captain Michael Vaughan believes that Australia will “quite easily” win the upcoming four-match Test series against India in the absence of Virat Kohli from the opposite camp.

“No Virat Kohli for three Tests in Australia…The right decision going to be at the birth of his first child…but it means Australia will win the series quite easily IMO .. #JustSaying,” Vaughan said in a tweet.

The first Test at Adelaide will be India’s first day-nigt Test outside home soil. It will also be skipper Virat Kohli’s only appearance in all-whites in Australia this time as he would return to India on a paternity leave after the opener.

Kohli had already informed the BCCI about his wish to return to India to unite with his wife Anushka Sharma. They are expecting their first child in January next year.

Kohli will, however, feature in three ODIs and as many T20Is which will be played before the first Test — a pink-ball fixture — of which the Indian skipper will be a part of.

India’s tour of Australia will kick off with the ODI series from November 27. It will be followed by the three-match T20I series from December 4 before the Virat Kohli-led team begins the title defence of the Border-Gavaskar trophy with the pink-ball Test in Adelaide from December 17.

It will be followed by Tests at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (December 26), the Sydney Cricket Ground (January 7) and the Gabba (January 15).

Meanwhile, the players of the Indian cricket team left directly from the United Arab Emirates after participating in the 13the season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) there. Team India were seen PPE kits in images shared by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

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