MS Dhoni
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has not played any competitive cricket since the ICC World Cup last year. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: In a move which now reflects the thinking of Indian cricket board, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has dropped former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni from their central contracts list for 2019-20 announced yesterday.

The speculation over the future of 38-year-old Dhoni had been one of the most intriguing topics in Indian cricket ever since the most successful skipper of the country decided to take a sabbatical from the game since the ICC World Cup in July last year.

He had initially spoken about taking a two-month break, during which Dhoni had served the Indian Army, but has not played any competitive cricket since then.

Only on Tuesday, the legendary Sunil Gavaskar had questioned the inordinately long absence of Dhoni. “Fitness [of Dhoni] is something that I can’t tell you anything at all. The question that needs to be asked is of MSD himself,” Gavaskar said, replying to a question if the player can still be considered for the World T20 later this year.

“That is the important question. Does anybody keep himself away from playing for India for that long? That is the question and therein lies the answer,” he added.

Later yesterday, a BCCI official told the media that a contract is not the ‘‘ultimate authority’’ in determining a player’s eligibility to play for the country.

“In the past also you have had players without a contract playing for the country and you will see that in the future as well. Assuming things doesn’t help,” the official explained.

The only somewhat transparent stand came from Indian head coach Ravi Shastri, who said things may change once ‘MSD’ is through with the Indian Premier League (IPL) in March-April.

If the enigmatic Dhoni is looking for one last hurrah — it’s only the World T20 later this year and a contract is no validation for a legend like him. There are, however, nearly nine months still to go for World T20 and sport — let alone cricket — does not always guarantee fairlytale endings!

Meanwhile, the trio — captain Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah — has been named in A+ category with an annual retainership of Rs70 million.

Following is the list of contracted players:

Grade A+ (Rs 70 millon): Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah.

Grade A (Rs 50 million): Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, K L Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav, Rishabh Pant.

Grade B (Rs 30 million): Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal.

Grade C: (Rs 10 million): Kedar Jadhav, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Manish Pandey, Hanuma Vihari, Shardul Thakur, Shreyas Iyer, Washington Sundar.