India coach Ravi Shastri says none can “mess around with” Mahendra Singh Dhoni if he decides to be in contention for next year’s T20 World Cup but the enigmatic former captain would “never impose himself” on the team.
In a soon-to-be-telecast interview on ‘India Today’ channel, Shastri was asked about the much-speculated future of Dhoni, who has been on a sabbatical ever since India’s semifinal exit from the ODI World Cup in England earlier this year.
“That (Dhoni) guy is a legend. The last thing he will want is to impose himself on an Indian team, having known him. He is wanting to take a break but he is going to play the IPL,” Shastri said on the show ‘The Inspiration’.
Asked if he isn’t ruling out a comeback by the 38-year-old, Shastri answered, “The amount of sport he has played… if he puts himself in contention… if he feels after the IPL that ‘I am good enough to play for India’, don’t mess around with that.”
Dhoni, after maintaining a stoic silence on his future plans for months, had recently stated that, “Don’t ask anything till January.”
National selection committee chairman MSK Prasad has, however, made it clear that the panel has “moved on” and Dhoni is aware of its intent to blood youngsters such as Rishabh Pant keeping in mind next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
Pant hasn’t exactly capitalised on the chances that have come his way and has copped criticism for sloppy work behind the stumps. Recently, Pant also drew flak for poor DRS calls, something that the seasoned Dhoni had aced.
Dhoni was seen training with Jharkhand’s under-23 team in Ranchi last month, triggering a fresh round of speculation on a possible comeback.
The veteran has played 90 Tests, 350 ODIs and 98 T20 Internationals for India, accumulating over 17,000 runs.
He is also considered one of the best wicketkeepers in international cricket with over 500 dismissals in limited-overs format. He has nearly 300 Test dismissals to his credit.