MS Dhoni was absent from the list of centrally contracted players published by the Indian cricket board Thursday, raising fresh speculation about the 38-year-old warhorse’s future.
Dhoni has not appeared for club or country since the World Cup in July and the wicketkeeper-batsman has been expected to announce his retirement for some time.
The former captain of the national side, who serves as an honorary lieutenant colonel in the army reserves, spent part of last year with his unit in strife-torn Kashmir — missing an ODI tour of the West Indies.
He has not featured in any series since and was not named as part of the squad to tour New Zealand later this month.
He quit Test cricket in 2014 but continued to be India’s batting mainstay in limited-overs cricket despite passing on the captaincy to Virat Kohli in 2017.
However Dhoni may be eyeing a last hurrah at the Twenty20 World Cup in October and November in Australia.
He is expected to lead the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) this April-May.
The Indian selectors have been grooming young stumper Rishabh Pant, 22, to fill Dhoni’s gloves.
Previously Dhoni was in the A-grade category of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) central list, earning a guaranteed $715,000.
Pant is among 11 players listed in the A-grade contract with batsman KL Rahul taking Dhoni’s place.
Kohli, senior batsman Rohit Sharma and paceman Jasprit Bumrah are guaranteed at least $1 million each in the A-plus category for the period October 2019 to September 2020.