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Dhoni top choice to be Twenty20 captain

As was being speculated till now, Mahender Singh Dhoni is going to be named captain for the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in September.

According to sources close to the board and the selection panel, Dhoni has acquitted himself wonderfully in his role as One-day vice-captain and is a 100 per cent choice. "Itís unlikely that there will even be a debate over it," an official told TOI on Saturday.

"Dhoni is a good reader of the game. He is a quick learner and has his feet firmly grounded. He will make an ideal captain," he said. "His elevation will be a great thing for cricket in the country. Everybody in even the smaller towns will feel he also has a chance now," he said.

Dhoni, a relative outsider from Jharkhand, will probably be Indiaís first captain beyond the metros and known cricketing nurseries. He has shot into the limelight with his electrifying strokes and his flashy image off the field. His controversy-free career till now too has gone in his favour.

The board seems to have done its homework too before arriving at this decision. Its officials have spoken to the senior players in the team and are happy with the positive feedback. "Sachin, Rahul, Anil, are all very impressed with Dhoniís approach and attitude," the source said.

The teams for both the One-dayers in England and the Twenty20 World Cup will be named on August 7. The captain will also be picked on the same day when the selectors meet in Mumbai. The chairman, Dilip Vengsarkar, is expected to be present through a tele-conference. Meanwhile, another official agreed that Yuvraj Singh could be the only other potential candidate beyond Dhoni. However, he gives him only an outside chance. "The very fact that he was overlooked for the vice-captaincy in ODIs recently will give you an indication," he reasoned.

Interestingly, sources reveal that there are unlikely to be too many changes in the One-day team. Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan and Harbhajan Singh will have to wait for their turn. "There has been so much talk about Irfan but he isnít really there yet. He has neither regained his pace nor swing," said an official.

"Chandrakant Pandit had seen him in Chennai, in a friendly match against Maharashtra, and he hasnít come back too impressed," he added. Incidentally, Irfan picked up two wickets in the four-day match against a Zimbabwe XI and scored 39 too as opener. But that is unlikely to open the doors for him as yet.

Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar will remain openers in the One-day side and Yuvraj, Dravid, Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma will remain the backbone of the One-day team. Suresh Raina, who is desperately trying to prove his fitness, will also have to spend a few more anxious days before his fate becomes clearer.

Sehwag, though, is likely to be recalled into the World Cup Twenty20 team. "Yes, he will almost certainly be back. We need not only batsmen but also those who can bowl a few overs," the official explained. "According to many England players, spin plays a crucial role in this format," he said.

Piyush Chawla and Rajesh Powar are expected to be the frontline spinners. Irfanís brother, Yusuf, with his all-round ability is a near certainty too. The pace bowling department is likely to be manned by Zaheer Khan and RP Singh. Sree Santh may lose out because of his waywardness.

With Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly opting out, the stage is set for the younger lot to make an impression: the likes of Robin Uthappa, Manoj Tiwary and Rohit Sharma are being seen as prime future material. One dimensional players like Harbhajan and Munaf Patel can also expect the short shrift.

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