Shastri backs MSD for strong performance against Oz

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India coach Ravi Shastri has dismissed any suggestion that wicketkeeper batsman MS Dhoni is a fading force in ODI cricket.

Shastri believes that Dhoni will form part of India’s 2019 World Cup plans and he is confident the veteran can back up a strong showing against Sri Lanka in a five match series against Australia.

Speaking to India today Shastri said of Dhoni: “He is one of the fittest guys in the team.

“As far as wicketkeeping goes, in one-day cricket, he’s the best and let me tell you there’ll be some surprises in store with the bat.

“You watch. I have a feeling there is something around the corner. In Sri Lanka, you might have just seen a trailer.”

Dhoni’s Test career came to an abrupt end when he retired from the format and resigned the captaincy in the middle of a series against Australia in 2015 but Shastri feels that quitting the long form has prolonged that star stopper’s career.

Shastri said: “A break from Test cricket has been very good for him. For going through all those years as a wicketkeeper across all three formats has been tough.”

The coach backed the decision to rest frontline spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja for the series against Australia with a massive Test season looming.

He added: “You have a heck of a lot of cricket being played. You have about 25 Test matches in two years.

“You have a similar number of one-day games and a similar number of T20 games. Now you want a guy operating in a mode in a particular format that is very good from the team point of view.

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“If you look at the No. 1 and 2 bowlers in the world, it’s Ashwin and Jadeja [sic three and two] and we are playing a heck of a lot of cricket, a lot of Test cricket. So if you start playing them across all formats, there will be burn out.

“The World Cup is still two years away. There’s enough time. Every now and then they might play. But the emphasis should be on Test matches as far as they are concerned.

“They can play across all three formats. So how much you want to use a player here, as opposed to a different format, that is a decision the team management will have to take.

“[India go to] South Africa for two months [in 2018], England two and a half months, Australia two and a half-three months, so you don’t want a burnout or more important than that, injuries.

“Already you would have seen in Sri Lanka, all 15 players played. You will see at least, across the one-day formats, just having a chat with the selectors, their intentions, I think are very good.

“Try as many guys who are on the fringe and then boil down to a point, six months, seven months to the World Cup, you have about 17-18 players to choose [from]. That will depend on current form, at that time form will be very important as well, and of course the fitness parameters.”