India coach Ravi Shastri has heaped praise on former skipper MS Dhoni, claiming that the 36-year-old still has a lot of fight left in him and sits firmly in his 2019 World Cup plans. Shastri also shed some light on the importance of experimentation in the ODI games before the grand tournament.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been brilliant in India’s ongoing ODI series against Sri Lanka as the wicketkeeper-batsman has played three reliable innings in the last four games of 45, 67 and 49, remaining unbeaten. Adding yet another feather in his cap on Thursday, Dhoni played his 300 game for the Men in Blues, a feat only 19 players have achieved before him in ODI format.
Not only has been a support with the bat, but his intelligence from behind the stumps remains at its peak too. India got a glimpse of his impeccable DRS call as he got rid of a high-flying Niroshan Dickwella. Understandably, the player enjoys the full confidence of the team coach Ravi Shastri and given how vocal the 55-year-old has always been, he didn’t hide his admiration for the 2011 World Cup-winning skipper.
Speaking to PTI, he 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 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. How do you pick players? When they are good, and Dhoni is the best limited-overs’ keeper in the country,” he added.
After sealing the five match ODI-series in the first three game itself, India had experimented in the last game with the likes of Manish Pandey and Shardul Thakur getting selected in the team. And Shastri said the side will continue squad rotation to give everyone enough opportunity to decide the perfect combination for the 2019 World Cup.
“ODIs are where we will experiment. Winning and losing will not matter so much. Of course, you play to win but we have to try all possible combinations. Most of our players have played in this series already, and the endeavor will be to rotate the players giving everyone enough opportunity.”
India are scheduled to play more than 40 limited-overs matches before the next World Cup and Shastri would want to experiment all the players under his disposal.
He continued, “… So that when we have 12-15 months to go for the World Cup, we have a nucleus of about 18-20 players in place. And we can then choose from this group just before the World Cup begins.”
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