MUMBAI: Team India head coach Ravi Shastri heaped high praise on former India captain and limited-overs wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and dismissed doubts about his international future, saying that the team management cannot even think of removing the Ranchi stalwart, considering his current form and fitness.
Dhoni, who scored 162 runs with a strike-rate of 82.23 in the series against Sri Lanka was in top form and played match-winning knocks in two matches. The former India skipper, who played his 300th One-day International (ODI) in Sri Lanka, also grabbed eye balls with his quick reflexes behind the wicket, becoming the first wicket-keeper in ODI history to effect 100 stumpings.
Shastri asserted that Dhoni has both fitness and current form on his side and that the team will need him in the next ODI World Cup in 2019.
India head coach also compared Dhoni with the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev and said his achievements need to be respected.
“Where else will you find a legend like MS Dhoni? Dhoni is in the same league as Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar or Kapil Dev. We have to respect his achievements,” Shastri telling a TV channel.
Shastri, who took over as India coach in July this year after Anil Kumble resigned from the post, citing differences with captain Kohli, lauded Dhoni’s performance in Sri Lanka and said that there’s still a lot to come from him.
The 55-year-old Shastri added that Dhoni remains the best wicket-keeper in India in ODIs.
“A player is evaluated on the basis of his current form and fitness and Dhoni has both. If you see his wicket-keeping, he is the best in ODI cricket. His fitness is superb, he batted well in Sri Lanka. And let me tell you, it was just a trailer what you saw in Sri Lanka now wait for the movie,” he said.
Shastri said if Dhoni can continue to perform like this then there’s no question of not having him in the 2019 World Cup.
“If he continues to play like this, there no question of not having him in the team for the 2019 world cup. You can’t even think of a team without Dhoni,” he said.
On inclusion of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina, Shastri said: “Doors are not closed. They will be inducted only after they are declared fit.”
The team head coach said: “I have a problem. The amount of cricket that we are playing, we need at least 20 to 25 players. It is very difficult for a single player to play all forms of cricket. Players need rest.”