Fitter and faster than players 10 years his junior, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is irreplaceable in the Indian ODI team right now, feels national coach Ravi Shastri, who says critics should perhaps analyse their own careers at 36 before finding faults in the former captain. Dhoni’s form with the bat has been heavily scrutinised in the recent past with every failure being looked upon as an ominous sign.
However, the talismanic keeper-batsman did well in the just-concluded limited-overs series against Sri Lanka to silence some of the criticism.
“We are not stupid. I have been watching this sport for the last 30-40 years. Virat has been a part of this team for a decade now. We know, at this age, he (Dhoni) can beat players aged 26. People who talk, forget that they played the game,” Shastri told ‘India Today’.
“The fact that he does not play Test cricket, means he should be playing as much cricket as possible till the World Cup in 2019,” he added.
Shastri also spoke about the upcoming tour of South Africa, which starts with a three-match Test series from January 5.
The team is scheduled to depart on December 27 and would be aiming to secure its first Test series triumph on the South African soil.
“For us all opposition is the same, all oppositions have to be respected and every game is a home match. And as it turned out that next we are in South Africa. Where South Africa is different is that we haven’t won a series in South Africa,” he said.
“Therein lies a massive opportunity for the team to do something special. The belief is there. We are going there and we will treat South Africa like we treat any other opposition we have played against. There will be respect but we will go there to win,” he added.
Shastri heaped praise on current skipper Virat Kohli, who took a break from the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka after a massively successful year with the bat.