India's limited overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is likely to play his first international match in two and half months with apparently no official game time in sight.
India's first ODI against England is scheduled on January 15 in Pune. It is expected to be Dhoni's first international match in two and half months after having last played against New Zealand at Visakhapatnam on October 29.
While there is a protocol for injured players to play at least one first-class game before being considered for national selection, the same is not applicable for Dhoni, who has announced his retirement from longer format. Dhoni prepared for the limited overs tour of Australia in 2015 by playing the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Jharkhand.
However, this edition of Hazare Trophy will only commence from February 25 – nearly four weeks after the England ODI series has ended.
While some of the other ODI specialists are playing Ranji Trophy for their states, Dhoni is yet to avail that option.
With BCCI's embargo on players from competing in the other private leagues, it was not possible for the Indian captain to play a Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) match. The Jharkhand team has qualified for the knock-out stages of the Ranji Trophy but till date Dhoni has not given any indication that he would like to play as pure batsman with Ishan Kishan keeping wickets.
"We have no information as to whether Dhoni will be playing any Ranji Trophy game or not. In any case he has already retired from the longer format. The information we have is that he is doing his regular training with the Jharkhand team," chairman of senior selection committee MSK Prasad said on Sunday.
Even Jharkhand State Cricket Association Secretary Rajesh Verma made it clear that as far as Ranji Trophy is concerned, Dhoni is a 'mentor' of the senior state team.
"Dhoni does not play Test cricket anymore so the question of playing first-class cricket does not arise at all. He is a mentor of the Jharkhand team. He will play for Jharkhand in the Vijay Hazare Trophy," Verma said.
Dhoni was with the Jharkhand team in Delhi when they played against Maharashtra at the Karnail Singh Stadium. Dhoni, who has a house in South Delhi, came on all days and sat in the dressing room to cheer the Varun Aaron-led team.