On Friday, Indian head coach Ravi Shastri had clarified all the doubts regarding MS Dhoni’s future. He feels that the stalwart is not even “half finished yet” and is very much in the contention for the 2019 World Cup in England.
In the ongoing ODI series against Sri Lanka, Dhoni is in his top form with three unbeaten scores of 45, 67 and 49. Talking about Mahi, Shastri said, “MS Dhoni is a massive influence on the team. He is a living legend in the dressing room and an ornament to the game. By no means or by any stretch of imagination he is not finished or even half finished yet. If anyone thinks so, they are mistaken and they have another one coming. There are in for some surprises. The old dog has plenty to offer.”
Shastri feels that Dhoni is still the best wicketkeeper in India, he said, “Dhoni is the best limited-overs keeper in the country. Forget his batting stats, what else do you want. Just because he has played for so many years, you are thinking about a replacement?”
He further added, “He is the best in the country. Would you look to replace Sunil Gavaskar when he was 36 years old or Sachin Tendulkar when he was 36? Dhoni is still the best in the business, so what is the need to even entertain those thoughts.”
Indian head coach also explained his actual job in the team, he said, “My job is not to get involved in selection ever because I want my players to trust me. That’s the job of selectors. They watch more cricket and they see it the year around. If anyone fits into their parameters, depending on their form, then on the cricket field, they are available for selection.”
When asked about fitness parameters, Shastri replied, “Yes. When there are parameters put in place and that’s the vision of the team, then everyone has to fit into those parameters. It is as simple as that.”
Shastri’s reign as full-time coach has seen a winning start for team India as they won a second consecutive Test series in Sri Lanka and now have already wrapped up the ODI series in dominant style.
Shastri asserted that Team India has the ability to win overseas, he said, “If you look at world cricket today, there is not one team in the world that travels well but India can be that team. If you look at last three years, we are starting to travel well. We won the ODI series in England in 2014. We whitewashed Australia (3-0 in the T20 series in 2016), and I don’t even remember which team has ever done that in Australia. We have back-to-back series here in Sri Lanka. We won the Asia Cup last year. So this young side has already had a lot of ‘firsts’ overseas.”
Some of the Indian players like R Ashwin and Cheteshwar Pujara are playing out the last weeks of the County Championship. Commenting on the same, Shastri said, “Pujara, Ashwin and now Ishant is also going, I think he is joining Kent. The more players go, the merrier. I would like to see a couple more of fast bowlers going there. So I would love to see Umesh Yadav or Mohammed Shami going there, even if for short periods.”
He concluded, “And why just the bowlers, the batsmen should go too. If they want to before the tour, be it Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma or others, I am all for it.”