Former Indian batsman Venugopal Rao has insisted that MS Dhoni should continue playing cricket for the national team till the end of 2023 ODI World Cup in India. Rao has also added that mental focus and having a good mentality is key for players coming to the national camp from smaller towns.
Following India’s exit from the World Cup in 2019 after losing the semi-final against New Zealand, MS Dhoni has not played a single game for either of the national team or domestic team - with his first appearance set to come for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. Dhoni's former teammate Venugopal Rao revealed that the Indian team are better off with the presence of MS Dhoni in their playing XI. He added that Dhoni should consider playing the 2023 ODI World Cup in India, with his experience needed for the team.
“Definitely. He should also play the 50-over World Cup which will happen in India in 2023. He is a valuable player for any ICC tournament. I know he didn’t play after the World Cup semifinal last year but it is not difficult for him to come back. He is Dhoni,” Rao told The Sportstar.
The former all-rounder also added that Dhoni knows how to handle these things. With Dhoni having the experience of being a winner of all the three ICC trophies - ODI World Cup, T20 World Cup and the Champions Trophy, Rao feels that having him in the team would be key to India’s chances in the home edition.
“He knows how to handle these things. A guy who has all the ICC trophies. Nobody else is close to him as a captain or a wicketkeeper-batsman,” he added.
In the current Indian setup, Navdeep Saini and Yuzvendra Chahal are two players from a smaller district - Karnal and Jind respectively. Mental focus, according to Rao is what will help the players from the smaller districts to stand out while admitting that Dhoni set an inspiration for the players from smaller districts to play for the national team.
“Yes, of course. A lot of people from small towns like me, him, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Praveen Kumar, Suresh Raina represented India. I am not talking about the states, I am talking about the small districts and cities like Meerut and Muradnagar. When Dhoni and I used to travel with India A, we kept saying that mental focus is the main thing and also the feeling that you belong here,” he concluded.
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