For a man who has for long been the first name down on the team sheet as India and Chennai Super Kings captain, it must have come as a surprise for Mahendra Singh Dhoni when his name was the 16th in India Cements’ squad for the BCCI Corporate Trophy.
This could either mean that it was an official notification for the world that the India skipper is now on the payroll of India Cements, or that he has been forced to be a part of the team despite his eagerness to use the break between the last ODI against England and the first Test against Australia to stay fresh for the forthcoming four- match series.
The second option seems more plausible as India Cements have failed to win the tournament, despite the presence of most of the top- quality cricketers from southern India.
BCCI president N Srinivasan is the MD- cum- vice- chairman of India Cements — the owners of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings — and the strong squad announced for this week’s Corporate Trophy makes it clear that after triumphs in the IPL and the CLT20, India Cements is gearing up for a treble.
Dhoni, on his part, had made it clear that he wouldn’t take part in the upcoming Irani Cup as he needed a break from the packed cricketing calendar after the fifth ODI in Dharamsala on January 27.
“ As of now, no. But you never know,” he had said, when asked if he would play in the prestigious Irani Cup — to be played from February 6 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
While the Indian management has continuously spoken about rotating the players and giving youngsters an opportunity, it was surprising to see that Dhoni kept playing with injured fingers in the last ODI, despite the fate of the series having already been decided in Mohali.
And again, when rest is what any doctor would have advised Dhoni ahead of a gruesome four- match Test series against Australia, he has skipped the Irani Cup — a perfect training ground for India players before the first Test in Chennai from February 22 — but has suddenly popped up in the India Cements squad.
When contacted, a senior BCCI official told Mail Today that it was Dhoni’s call and the board had no say in it.
“If Dhoni told the media that he doesn’t want to play in the Irani, that is his call. And if he is in the India Cements’ team list, that again is his personal decision and the company’s,” he said.
For the record, Dhoni had earlier played in the corporate trophy for Air India as he was employed with the national carrier — Indian. But he has now resigned, according to the airline.