Ravi Shastri says MS Dhoni's performance has been outstanding

Ravi Shastri said the IPL should only be considered as a ‘boon’ for Indian cricket © AFP (File photo)

Mumbai: Feb 10, 2013

Former cricketer Ravi Shastri said on Sunday that despite India’s recent slump in international cricket, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has done an ‘outstanding’ job, adding that veteran player Sachin Tendulkar has a lot of cricket left in him.

“It’s a team in transition. You are rebuilding. Look at Australia; they were the rulers of the world for a decade and a half. They slipped to six, seven at times. And they bounced back. So I see India bouncing back,” Shastri told Times of India.

Shastri heaped praise on skipper Dhoni, who took a lot of flak due to team’s poor run. He said, “Outstanding! When you compare the icons of the game, you have Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar and Dhoni in the same bracket.”

Talking about Tendulkar, who announced retirement from One-Day Internationals in December 2012, Shastri said he doesn’t believe that the Little Master was pushed into it.

“I don’t know that! I don’t get involved in that. My job is to speak on what I see. It’s his choice. You’ll have to ask Sachin whether he was forced to do it or not. Public perception will always be there. But he still has a lot of cricket in him,” he said.

Shastri said the rise of Indian Premier League (IPL) should only be considered as a ‘boon’ for Indian cricket.

“It’s been a boon. I think the game needed to evolve. I look at it from the other side as I have been with the governing council since its inception. All I say is it’s got more people wanting to watch the game and follow it than ever before. Plus, the money can be ploughed back into the system for first class cricket – for infrastructure, for facilities,” he said.

Shastri said despite the absence of Lalit Modi, the Twenty20 league has flourished.

He said, “But you know, the idea was great. It just goes to show that it’s a format people love. In the first three years, it became one of the top five sporting properties in the world. That includes Olympic Games and soccer World Cup. So when you look at those two and then IPL is part of the top six, you feel proud as an individual.”

“See when we played the game it was BCCI who ran the show and people would do ads and you’d make some money – nowhere near what you are talking about today. People would still criticize players, asking why we were allowed to this and that. Today, the top franchisees own teams and market forces drive the price of a player. It’s the budget of the franchisees, what they have, how far they can go to chase a guy,”
Shastri said, when asked about the whopping amount of money the players earn in the T20 tournament.

However, Shastri added that the rise of IPL won’t affect Test cricket.

“Not at all. You needed it. The game had to evolve. You strike a right balance; it will work for all formats of the game.  Ask any cricketer who plays in the IPL what he wants to do. They’ll all say that they want to play Tests for India. And that’s great!”