Head coach Ravi Shastri on Thursday, November 9, said that critics and experts keep targeting MS Dhoni as the "superstar" cricketer was always going to be a "great topic" on television. The World Cup-winning all-rounder, who had been an active commentator post-retirement, added that such "questions" are necessary to keep the show running.
Shastri also lashed out at Dhoni's critics, saying "jealous people" are eager to see the end of the World Cup-winning captain's career. He also went on say to say that it is up to the former captain to decide his future in international cricket.
Shastri's comments come after former Indian cricketers VVS Laxman and Aakash Chopra said that it was time for Dhoni to "make way for youngsters in the T20I format" after the wicketkeeper-batsman's under-par performance during India's 40-run defeat to New Zealand in the second of the recently-concluded three-match series.
Dhoni struggled to get going during India's mammoth chase of 197 and put pressure on skipper Virat Kohli, who eventually got out after the asking rate hit the roof. The former hit a few big ones towards the end of the innings, but it was too late.
Former fast bowler Ajit Agarkar, during his post-match show for ESPNcricinfo, lashed out at Dhoni, stressing on the Ranchi dasher's repeated failures in the T20I format in the recent past.
"Dhoni is a superstar. He is one of our greatest cricketers. So, he is always going to be a great topic. He is always going to be a topic because he is a legend. When you have a career as glorious as that, you become a topic on television," Shastri was quoted as saying by Anandabazar Patrika.
"Not so long ago, I used to do television and people used to ask me questions. You need to answer questions to make a show happen. Looks like there are a lot of jealous people around, who just want Dhoni to have a couple of bad days. There are a few people who are waiting to see the end of MS Dhoni. But great players like him decide their own future," he added.
Shastri echoes captain Kohli
Shastri also echoed Kohli's comments on Dhoni as the captain had also backed his wicketkeeper-batsman right after India won the series in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, November 7. Notably, the Delhi star had opined that Dhoni has been "unfairly" targeted and maintained that his former skipper still keeps contributing to the side.
"It (the criticism) doesn't make a difference to me. In our mind, we know where Dhoni stands within the team. He is an ultimate team-man. He was a great leader and now an ultimate team-man," Shastri said.
Kirmani blasts Dhoni critics
Meanwhile, legendary Indian wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani, in an exclusive interview with International Business Times, India, said Dhoni should not be forced into retirement. The Bengaluru cricketer also hit out at the Ranchi dasher's critics for the comments on the former's T20I future.
"The players who were in the Indian team and retired now don't want experienced players like Dhoni in the side. I don't know for what reason. A guy like Agarkar is telling Dhoni to quit. Who is Agarkar in front of Dhoni to say such a thing? And such guys are allowed to say all these things and media prints them without knowing what Dhoni is all about," Kirmani said.