MS Dhoni has written his own script all these years but omission from India's T20I squad may force him to venture into uncharted territory, moving into the 2019 World Cup in England. While the 37-year-old is known to keep his cards close to his chest, it seems that the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 might just be the last time that this once-in-a-generation player dons the India blues. The national selection committee has shown first signs of phasing him out from one of the two limited-overs formats and T20 certainly seems to be more convenient for the five wise men.
"It's a given that Dhoni won't be around when next ICC World T20 happens in Australia in 2020. So, there wasn't any point continuing with him if he will not play World T20," a senior BCCI official privy to selection policy told PTI on Saturday.
"Obviously, the selectors and team management had a good deliberation on this issue. Both Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma were present at the selection committee meeting.
"You think selectors could have gone ahead without their approval?" the official said.
In the year 2018, Dhoni played seven T20 Internationals with an unbeaten 52 off 28 balls against South Africa being the highlight
If that inning is taken out, Dhoni has scored 71 runs off 51 balls in the remaining six matches that he has played.
It's no secret that Dhoni is the first choice wicketkeeper for the ODI World Cup in England but a lot will depend on how he performs in the last three ODIs against the Windies.
More so because he will again be out of match practice for the next two months till India play their next lot of ODIs from January to March.
The chairman of selectors MSK Prasad spoke about looking at a second choice keeper and the flamboyant Rishabh Pant has already earned the vote of confidence from the team management.
That precisely is the reason why selectors could risk dropping Dhoni from the shortest format.
But what would happen if Dhoni's bat fails to talk for him in the coming matches is the question that is doing the rounds.
Once the Windies series gets over, Dhoni will not even get to play domestic 50-over matches with both Deodhar and Vijay Hazare Trophy also ending.
"If Pant plays well and Dhoni's inconsistent run continues, would you still call him a certainty for World Cup? On what basis?" questioned a former India player.
"The lack of game time has been pretty evident this year. I don't know maybe he is thinking that from January till World Cup, he will be playing a lot of games including IPL for CSK and he doesn't need practice," the former international added.
For someone, who has been fiercely guarded and at times even difficult to contact, it is difficult to gauge his mind.
Dhoni's major decisions, retiring from Tests or quitting limited-overs captaincy may look instinctive but those who have seen him closely know how much thought process went into it.
While the World Cup, in all likelihood, will be his swansong, no one can quite forget the stunning manner in which he called time on his Test career -- in the middle of a series, after a customary press conference where he didn't even drop a hint, through a short BCCI press release.
With MS Dhoni, nothing can be ruled out.