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MS Dhoni would never impose himself on Team India, he's equal to Kapil Dev in terms of fitness: Ravi Shastri

Pune, January 9: India Head Coach Ravi Shastri has equated veteran India cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni with legendary Kapil Dev in terms of fitness and believes the best format for the wicketkeeper-batsman is T20 considering his age.

Talking to CNN News 18 in an interview ahead of the third T20I between India and Sri Lanka in Pune, Shastri said MS Dhoni has had a chat with him regarding his future but that is a dressing room conversation and he's not bound to not share in the public domain yet.

"We had a conversation but that's between me and MS, that's in the dressing room. What I feel is which people must respect is he's played non-stop in all formats of the game for a while. He's finished playing Test match, and in all probability, he'll finish one-day cricket. At his age, probably the only format he'll want to play is T20 cricket which means he'll have to start playing again, get back into the grooves because he's going to play in the IPL and see how his body reacts."

Shastri went on saying that Dhoni will never impose himself on the team for he keeps team ahead of the individual. As far as the Ranchi cricketer's future in the national side is concerned the coach believes it all depends on his form in the Indian Premier League 2020.

"One thing about Dhoni I'll tell you. He will never impose himself on the team, or even himself. If he feels when he comes back that something is not right, just like he quit Test cricket, which was like a bolt out of the blue. He just came and said I've had enough 90 Test matches, Wriddhiman Saha is ready, here take the gloves. He might do just that. But if he has a cracking IPL then (laughs)," the former India captain said further.

Shastri also said that the upcoming season of the IPL is not only going to be crucial for Dhoni but also for the youngsters who wish to put themselves into the national reckoning.

"So the IPL is the biggest tournament (looking into the preparations for the T20 World Cup). It's not just for him (Dhoni), for plenty of other players, because you know that (team selection) will relate to the current form. You might get a rookie who might come with an outstanding (performance in the) IPL, whose name doesn't even feature in the top 18-19 now, suddenly you might have to look in another direction that who's this guy and that's the beauty of the IPL. It gives you a stage to perform for two months day in and day out and you can be a star overnight. So he (Dhoni) will play that, and after that, we'll see."

When asked if all three wicketkeepers Dhoni, Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson do equally well in the IPL then who will get the first preference by the team management, the 57-year-old claimed it will all depend on the position for which the team is looking at.

"You'll have to see who'll do the job at what number, (and) what role. Who's the best guy, you'll take experience, youth and flamboyance into account and who fits into that number the best whether it is X, Y or Z. And as we'll be playing it Australia we'll have to figure out who'll adapt to the conditions best. All three names that you took are explosive batsmen and will be suitable for batting at number 4 or 5 because we need power at the back. So you'll have to see consistency, experience and conditions," he said.

"All that will come into play when the selectors sit down to pick the World Cup squad. And if Dhoni has a stellar show in the IPL and he puts himself into the contention then why not. If a guy is performing and if a guy who's never had fitness problems in his entire career. I mean for me he's like Kapil Dev. Kaps (Kapil) never had a problem, right through his career. Towards the end of his career also if there was one day cricketer, I am sure he would have played another two years," Shastri concluded.

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Story first published: Thursday, January 9, 2020, 14:35 [IST]
Other articles published on Jan 9, 2020
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