Michael Clarke has lauded India's decision to select MS Dhoni as a part of the Indian squad for the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy in England. The Aussie also pinpointed Dhoni's exquisite shot making capabilities against Mumbai Indians as the main turning point in the first playoff game.
While there have been a lot of critics who have questioned Dhoni's inclusion in the team despite average performances, the former Indian captain has found an unusual ally in the form of Michael Clarke. The 36-year-old has said that Dhoni had done enough to justify his selection in the team and pointed out the fact that he is still India's best wicket keeper.
“I think he is still as good as he has been. I have said this through the IPL and will continue to say that through the Champions Trophy, India has made a smart decision in picking him for the tournament," Clarke said, as quoted by India Today.
“He deserves to be there. He is the best wicket-keeper in the country. His batting is still as good as it always was. He has shown form in patches in the IPL and I have no doubt he will show us (what he can do) in Champions Trophy.”
“I am really interested to see where Virat bats him in the Champions Trophy. I would bat him at No.4 in T20 cricket and 5 in ODIs like Australia did with Andrew Symonds. His experience, his skill will play a huge role if India is to win the trophy.”
During the first qualifier against Mumbai, Rising Pune Supergiant found themselves at a below par score of 121/3 with just two overs to go. Dhoni, who had played a very calculative innings until then, decided it was time to free his arms and over the next nine balls that he faced, Dhoni scored 26 runs - 24 of which came off four balls. The cameo ensured Pune finished with a score of 162/4 which turned out to be 20 runs more than what Mumbai could muster.
“That (Dhoni's cameo) changed the game. The fact that Pune managed to get over the 160-run mark, the confidence in the change room was different. Pune took that momentum walking in to the field. The pitch was such that it took batsmen some time to get in and MS did take some time but he knew he could change it in the end,” Clarke explained.
“What has gone unnoticed is his wicket-keeping. That’s his primary job and he has been the best in the competition. Secondly, he is a batsman and you want him to bat well because you know how good he is and on Tuesday night he did that. The other thing about great players which MS does is to stand up when the team needs you the most. He is one of the few who stands up on big occasions consistently. Tuesday night was another example.”