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Dhoni back in T20 team for Australia/New Zealand

India will have the luxury of having three stumpers for the three Twenty20 internationals to be played against New Zealand next February. The selection committee retained Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik, and also recalled Mahendra Singh Dhoni - who played his last Twenty20 international against England at Bristol on July 8 - for the three matches to be played at Wellington, Auckland and Hamilton. Dhoni is the first choice nominated wicket-keeper though.

There is no statement from the national selection committee in the BCCI announcement with regard to Dhoni’s recall. With the team management virtually assuring him of a place in the team for next year’s ICC Cricket World Cup in England, Dhoni’s selection for the three-match ODI series against Australia and five-match ODI series against New Zealand was a foregone conclusion.

players had pointed to Dhoni’s diminishing form in the shortest form of the game this year. The Delhi wicket-keeper batsman, Pant does not figure in the ODI series to be played against Australia and New Zealand. The Chairman of the selection committee, M.S.K. Prasad, who is in Australia now, would have consulted the captain and the coach and thereafter his colleagues in the committee, before taking the decision to bring back Dhoni for the Twenty20 matches. The BCCI release also stated that Pant will play for India-A in the five-match one-day home series against England Lions. In the seven innings of the eight matches he played against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, West Indies and Australia this year, Pant scored 114 runs off 96 balls. Dinesh Karthik has also kept wicket in nine Twenty20 matches this year.

Dhoni has had a troubled 2018 so far, with runs hard to come by. More than the lack of runs, it will be his strike-rate that will be a cause of concern with the World Cup blueprint in progress. While fitness and keeping continue to be elite, a struggling Dhoni in the middle order is definitely going to be a roadblock for India's batting that revolves quite a lot on their formidable top three. This series will be crucial for the 37-year-old as he looks to get himself into form at the earliest. KL Rahul continues to find a place but Ambati Rayudu should continue to hold the no.4 slot after impressive showings in the Windies series. Paceman Umesh Yadav misses out on a berth after a poor outing in the ODI series against Windies, where he picked up only one wicket and had an economy rate of 7.1 runs an over. Mohammed Shami, who picked up a six-wicket haul in the last Test in Perth, returns to the ODI squad after missing the last three one-dayers against Windies.

The fans were naturally delighted to see Dhoni back in the team and posted several messages on Twitter, welcoming 'Thala' back into the T20I side. India will play their first match in the 3-match ODI series against Australia on January 12 in Sydney. Their tour of New Zealand starts on 23rd January where they play their first ODI in Napier.

The squads for the ODI series against Australia and New Zealand: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), K.L Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, M.S Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Shami.

Squad for the Twenty 20 series against New Zealand: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), K.L Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni(wk), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed.

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