Team India head coach Ravi Shastri once again reiterated his support for Mahendra Singh Dhoni, slamming the critics who feel the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman should make way for any youngster in the limited-overs format.

Dhoni had faced widespread criticism this year for his indifferent outings on several occasions. Recently, Dhoni got criticised by many for his performance in the T20I series against New Zealand, as the likes of VVS Laxman and Ajit Agarkar said the keeper-batsman should quit T20Is.

However, the World Cup-winning skipper showed sparks of brilliance on more than one occasion this year with the latest being the half-century that he scored in the first One-Day International against Sri Lanka which helped India recover from a disastrous start and post a respectable 112.

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But while every failure of his had been used as an opportunity by the critics to take a shot at the veteran batsman, the Indian players and the head coach have firmly thrown their support behind the 36-year old throughout.

Shastri once again backed Dhoni to continue, as he believes the former India skipper is fitter and faster than players ten years junior to him and backed him to play at least till the 2019 World Cup,

“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,” Shastri said.

Shastri went on to slam the critics, saying they should analyse their career at 36 before questioning Dhoni’s credibility.  Shastri also said Dhoni is irreplaceable at the moment.

“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,” he said.

Dhoni is still one of the best in business behind the stumps (Credits: BCCI)

Watch: MS Dhoni Makes Rare Mistake Behind The Stumps

“He is still one of the best around, not only in the Indian team but in the world. Some of the things you see with him are not sold in the market. You will not get it anywhere else,” he added.

Well, considering Dhoni’s sharp reflexes behind the stumps and responsibility certainly makes him an asset to the team. The likes of Rishabh Pant and other promising wicketkeepers have been tipped by many to replace Dhoni, but it is safe to say that none of them have still managed to make a big impression so far.

Dhoni has had a good outing with the bat against Sri Lanka (Credits: BCCI)

Shastri further said that Dhoni should play as much cricket as possible till the next World Cup.

“The fact that he does not play Test cricket means he should be playing as much cricket as possible till the World Cup in 2019,” he said.

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