Ravi Shastri (left) has always been vocal with his support to MS Dhoni © Getty Images
Ravi Shastri (left) has always been vocal with his support to MS

Team India coach Ravi Shastri has been a vocal supporter of MS Dhoni. In recent times, Dhoni’s role in limited-overs was questioned by critics and fans of the game. Dhoni, in his trademark style, silenced his critics with the bat and glooves in the just-concluded Sri Lanka series.

Shastri has come out in the open and slammed Dhoni’s doubter saying the World Cup winning captain can outmatch players 10 years younger to him. Speaking to IndiaToday, Shastri said, “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.”

It was just last week that BCCI Chairman of Selectors’ MSK Prasad backed Dhoni till the 2019 World Cup 2019, a sentiment backed by Shastri as well. He said, “If they look at themselves in the mirror and ask the question, ‘what they were at the age of 36?’. Would they have run two runs faster? But the time they finish two, this guy will run three. Then he has won only two World Cups and averages only 51. Till today you don’t have a wicket-keeper to replace him in the one-day team.”

Shastri also talked about India’s upcoming South Africa tour

Shastri added, “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.

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.”

Shastri also lauded Virat Kohli for his leadership skills during a long home season.

“The great thing about Virat is his work ethic, his realisation of what kind of player he can become and what he it takes to become that player… And it has become part of his lifestyle.

What happens is, that when you have a captain in that frame of mind, wanting to achieve things others can only dream of. Then it rubs off on other players. Others want to emulate him. He wants to raise the bar for himself and he doesn’t want any room for excuses,” concluded Shastri.