'You can't stop speculation as he is such a big player'
Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will take a call on his future after next year's Indian Premier League (IPL), a source close to the star cricketer said on Tuesday, seeking to quash the endless speculation surrounding his career.
Dhoni has been on a sabbatical since India's semifinal exit from the ODI World Cup in England in July. He has missed the tour of the West Indies and the home series against South Africa and Bangladesh.
"If at all MS will take a call on his future, it will only be after the IPL. You can't stop speculation as he is such a big player. He is in the best shape possible fitness-wise and has been training hard for the last one month," the source said.
"However the number of competitive games he will play before the IPL will be decided in due course," he added.
The 38-year-old, who captains Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, will also skip the limited-overs home assignment against the West Indies starting December 6 and comprising three T20 Internationals and an equal number of One-dayers.
National selection committee chairman MSK Prasad has already made it clear that the panel has 'moved on' and Dhoni is aware of its intent to blood youngsters such as Rishabh Pant keeping in mind next year's T20 World Cup in Australia.
Pant, however, hasn't capitalised on the chances that have come his way and has copped criticism for sloppy work behind the stumps. Recently, Pant also drew flak for poor DRS calls, something that the seasoned Dhoni had aced.
Dhoni, on his part, has not uttered a word on his future course of action.
He was, however, seen training with Jharkhand's under-23 team in Ranchi some days back, triggering a fresh round of speculation on a possible comeback.
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has stated that Dhoni will get the respect that a player of his stature deserves and had ruled out an immediate retirement by the celebrated wicketkeeper-batsman.
"You know champions don't finish quickly," he had stated when he took over as the Board president last month.
One of the biggest names in Indian cricket, Dhoni led India to two world titles -- the 2007 World T20 in South Africa and the 2011 ODI World Cup at home.
The veteran has played 90 Tests, 350 ODIs and 98 T20 Internationals for India, accumulating over 17,000 runs.
He is also considered one of the best wicketkeepers in international cricket with over 500 dismissals in limited-overs format. He has nearly 300 Test dismissals to his credit.