Whether MS Dhoni plays for India again or not, he will play the 2020 edition of the IPL for Chennai Super Kings and "will be retained" by the team when he goes into the mega auction prior to IPL 2021, according to N Srinivasan, the vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements, owners of the franchise.
"People keep saying when will he... how long will he play, etc. He will play. I can assure you. He will play this year. Next year he will go the auction; he will be retained. So there is no doubt in anybody's mind," Srinivasan said at a recent India Cements event.
Dhoni, 38, remains an active player, but hasn't played for India since the 2019 50-over World Cup, making himself unavailable for selection on occasion in this period too. That has understandably led to a fair bit of speculation on the wicketkeeper-batsman's future, especially with a T20 World Cup coming up this year and his replacement Rishabh Pant having an up-and-down run.
Most recently, Dhoni was left out of the BCCI's list of centrally contracted cricketers, suggesting that the board might not be expecting him to figure in their plans going forward, even though Ravi Shastri, the head coach of the senior men's team, said recently that Dhoni would be back in contention for a spot in the national team if he did well at the IPL.
"If he decides to play, which he will because he will play the IPL, then he will start with a very fresh mind and very clear ideas," Shastri told India Today in an interview. "Then you've got to see form. If he has a great IPL and puts himself into contention that 'I'm available for selection', then you don't fool around."
Dhoni, who led India to the T20 World Cup (2007), 50-over World Cup (2011) and the Champions Trophy (2013) titles, has captained the Super Kings from the inaugural season of the IPL in 2008 - bar the two years, in 2016 and 2017, when the team was banned because of the spot-fixing scandal. The team has won three IPL titles under Dhoni, along with being the losing finalists on five occasions. They also won the now-defunct Champions League T20 tournament twice, in 2010 and 2014.