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After Ravi Shastri, Rohit Sharma slams MS Dhoni critics

Rohit Sharma said the criticism around MS Dhoni was unfair as he faces a lot less deliveries than the other batsmen in the team. In an exclusive interview with India Today's Rohit Sharma becomes the latest to back Dhoni.

MS Dhoni might have drawn some criticism from a few former cricketers over his performances in T20 cricket but the World Cup-winning captain has found plenty of support from his own team.

Last month during the T20I series against New Zealand, skipper Virat Kohli was the first to throw his weight behind Dhoniand said the legendary wicketkeeper-batsman was still an integral part of his team.

Dhoni’s 37-ball 49 in India’s defeat to New Zealand in the second T20I drew sharp rebuke from former cricketers who felt it was time for India to look for an alternative to Dhoni in the shortest format.

However, coach Ravi Shastri, in an exclusive interview with India Today, slammed the 36-year-old Dhoni’s critics and said they should instead look at what they were like when they were 36.

Now, Rohit Sharma has also backed Dhoni and said he was shocked when people still questioned Dhoni’s role in the T20 team.

“I am shocked that this question is being raised. If you look at the recent performances, I don’t understand why people are still talking about it. It is not about whether he will be part of the 2019 World Cup, his recent form has been good.

“It is too far off and we should focus on what is happening now. He bats at No. 6 and does not get to play as many balls as some of us at the top of the order,” Rohit told India Today in an interview with Boria Majumdar.

Under Rohit, Dhoni batted at No.4 in the first T20I and hammered an unbeaten 39. In Indore, he walked in at No.3 after Rohit and KL Rahul had posted 165 for the first wicket. In the last match in Mumbai, Dhoni slipped back down the order to help navigate a bit of a tricky chase.

Given the recent numbers then, should Dhoni bat up the order more regularly now?

“That decision lies with the coach and the captain. I have seen him bat from four to six, and even batted at three in the IPL. That wicket in Rajkot (the second T20I vs New Zealand) was tough and we had lost four wickets when he went into bat. People need to look at the game situation before they talk,” Rohit said.

Speaking to India Today, Shastri had also wondered why Dhoni was being criticised when he was still extremely fit.

“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 can beat players aged 26. People who talk, forget that they played the game. If they look themselves in the mirror and ask the question, ‘what they were at the age of 36?’ Would they have run two runs faster?'” Shastri told India Today. “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 is still one of the best around, not only in the Indian team, but the world. Some of the things you see with him are not sold in the market. You will not get it anywhere else.

“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”

Dhoni, who was in indifferent form over the last couple of years in ODIs, finished with 788 runs from 29 matches in 2017. He had also scored a hundred against England in January and played a few crucial knocks for the team just when it looked like the opposition had the upper hand. His next challenge would be a tour of South Africa for six ODIs and three T20Is.

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