'If the IPL does not happen, then Dhoni's chances for a comeback look dim.'
Former India opener Gautam Gambhir says if the Indian Premier League this year, it will be difficult for former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to make a comeback to the Indian team.
Dhoni last played for India in the ICC ODI World Cup semi-final against New Zealand in July last year.
Since then he hasn't played any competitive cricket and legends such as Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev have already said that it's getting increasingly difficult for the Jharkhand wicketkeeper-batsman to make an international return after such a prolonged sabbatical.
He was expected to be seen in action at this year's IPL, which was postponed from March 29 to April 15 following the coronavirus outbreak, but the chances of the T20 league happening this year are getting remote with India expected to extended the nationwide lockdown till April 30.
"If the IPL does not happen this year, then it will become very difficult for MS Dhoni to make a comeback. On what basis can he (Dhoni) be selected since he is not been playing for the last one or one and a half year," Gambhir told Star Sports.
The 38-year-old Gambhir picked KL Rahul, who has been keeping in ODIs, as an apt replacement for Dhoni.
"Obviously his (Rahul's) keeping is not as good as Dhoni's, but if you are looking at T20 cricket, Rahul is a utility player, can keep and bat at No. 3 or 4. If the IPL does not happen, then Dhoni's chances for a comeback look dim.
"Ultimately, you are representing India, so whoever dishes out the best performance and can win the match for India should play for the team," added Gambhir.
The former India opener also stated that retirement is Dhoni's personal decision.
"As far as his retirement plans go by, that's his personal choice," said Gambhir.
However, former India batsman VVS Laxman believes that Dhoni can continue playing in the IPL in the future.
"Not only this IPL, he (Dhoni) will probably play in the next couple of IPLs, and then we will take a call about his future as a cricketer," Laxman said.
However, Laxman, a veteran of 134 Tests, said that the new selection committee, chaired by former spinner Sunil Joshi, will have to discuss Dhoni's future with him.
"Dhoni will be very clear, as far as his plans are concerned, I am sure he must have communicated that with (captain) Virat Kohli, (coach) Ravi Shastri immediately after the 2019 World Cup in England," said Laxman.
"The new selection committee will have to sit down with MS Dhoni and understand his future, as far as Indian cricket is concerned. But MS Dhoni will continue to play for CSK and do well for CSK," said Laxman.