Team India head coach Ravi Shastri heaped praises on former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday. Shastri also revealed that Team India could play skipper Virat Kohli at number four in English condition in the upcoming ICC World Cup 2019.
Speaking to Crickbuzz, Ravi Shastri said Dhoni was once in a generation cricketer and it was going to be tough to replace him in the Indian squad.
“He is still a great batsman, and is finishing matches for us. You saw in Adelaide, and he has been in terrific form this year. He may not be Dhoni of 2008 or 2011. But experience is not bought or sold in the market,” Ravi Shastri said.
Shastri also insisted that Dhoni was exceptional not just with the bat but with the gloves too.
“And why just batting, you saw the run-out of James Neesham on Sunday. That was Dhoni at his very best, like a con artist. He was not even looking at the ball, and the run-out was done in a flash, and it changed the course of that game. He is superb with the gloves, and from behind the stumps he really guides the wrist spinners because he understands all the fielding angles from inside the circle much better than the others,” Shastri added.
When asked about the criticism Dhoni faces, the 56-year-old made it clear that nobody was good enough to criticise the cricketer.
“Nobody is good enough to criticise MS Dhoni. If you talk about him, do you even know anything about cricket? Dhoni is like Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar. These guys come once in 30-40 years. He is an ornament to the game. He has been the captain of a number one Test team, and has two World Cups to his name,” Shastri said.
“In fact, tell me which trophy has he not won? Name it. There is no space in his trophy cabinet. I think people should learn a thing or two about cricket before they start talking about Dhoni. You don’t get a guy (of his experience and ability) overnight,” Shastri explained.
Speaking about Team India’s batting line-up, Shastri said Kohli could bat at number four and somebody like Ambati Rayudu could be promoted up in the order.
“The good thing about this Indian top-three is we can separate them, if conditions and situations demand. Someone like Virat Kohli can go to number four, and we can put a good number three to bring more balance to the batting line-up. That’s flexibility for you, and for big tournaments like the World Cup, you have to be flexible to see what’s the best balance for the side. So we will decide that (accordingly in England),” Shastri said.
“Yes, maybe Rayudu, or someone else, could bat at number three, and Kohli comes in at number four. We wouldn’t want to disturb the opening combination. Separating the top-three could make the batting stronger,” Shastri clarified.
“But we will assess that on seeing conditions there in England. You don’t want to be 18-3 or 16-4 in a big tournament. I don’t care about bilateral ODIs, but why should I lose my best batsman early in a World Cup match (if the conditions are bowler friendly)?” Shastri asked.