Ravi Shastri: Sri Lanka series was just a trailer of MS Dhoni
India head coach Ravi Shastri urges MS Dhoni's followers and detractors to wait for the movie to unfold as 'keeper-batsman shows signs of second wind
India head coach Ravi Shastri has dismissed doubts about MS Dhoni's international future, saying that the team management cannot even think of removing the Ranchi stalwart considering his current form and fitness.
Dhoni was in top form in Sri Lanka, having scored 162 runs with a strike rate of 82.23. The former India skipper, who played his 300th one-day international in Sri Lanka, also grabbed eyeballs with his quick reflexes behind the wickets, becoming the first wicketkeeper in ODI history to affect 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.
MS Dhoni stumps Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews during the T20 game in Colombo on September 6. Pic/PTI
Shastri compared Dhoni with Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev and said his achievements need to be respected.
Nothing short of a legend
"Where else will you find a legend like MS Dhoni? Dhoni is in the same league as Gavaskar, Tendulkar or Kapil. We have to respect his achievements," Shastri told India TV yesterday.
Shastri, who took over as coach in July this year after Anil Kumble resigned citing differences with captain Kohli, lauded Dhoni's performance in Sri Lanka and said that there's still a lot to come from him. Shastri, 55, added that Dhoni remains the best wicketkeeper 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 wicketkeeping, 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."
Shastri said, he has talked to BCCI officials seeking rest for players after the series with Australia. "It is better that T20 is organised later, since there is hardly any time left between the Sri Lanka series and the South Africa tour." The head coach said, the first two matches against Australia were vital.
"We have to win the first two matches. These will decide the fate of the series. Australia will get a tough challenge," he said.
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