Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) selection committee chairman MSK Prasad on Saturday (December 23) reiterated his stand on MS Dhoni's place in the limited-over Indian sides, saying the veteran is their first choice for the wicketkeeper slot till the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Dhoni has been constantly criticised in the recent past for not being able to get going right from the world go, especially in T20Is. The 36-year-old was severely scrutinised during the recently-concluded T20I series against New Zealand, in which his waning finishing skills was on display.
Also read: 'Dhoni doing wonders for Team India'
Former cricketers VVS Laxman, Aakash Chopra and Ajit Agarkar had opined in favour of replacing Dhoni with a young candidate, at least in the shortest format of the game.
However, Prasad said the young wicketkeepers in the country have not met the selection committee's expectations and that Dhoni is still the best stumper in the world, let alone in the country.
"MS Dhoni still remains the number one wicketkeeper in the world. The stumpings that he does, the catches that he takes, it's just phenomenal. There's no comparison. I don't see any other wicketkeeper even close to him in world cricket, forget about Indian cricket," Prasad said after announcing the 17-member Indian ODI squad for South Africa tour on Saturday.
He added: "Let me tell you frankly that those boys are still not up to the mark where we would have liked them to be. We will keep giving them chances in the India A tours and make sure they are nurtured properly."
Dhoni managed to silence his critics with some crucial contributions in the ongoing limited-over rubber against Sri Lanka. He hit a match-winning 22-ball 39 in the first T20I at Cuttack on Wednesday, December 30 and was even promoted to bat at number three in the second T20I on Friday, December 22.
Wicketkeeper Dhoni still peerless
Regardless of the numbers he manages with the bat, Dhoni has always been on top of his game when it comes to his job from behind the wicket.
The Jharkhand gloveman, with his lightning-fast reflexes, has managed four stumps in the ongoing T20I rubber. He just needs one more catch to break Kumar Sangakkara's record (133) of most catches in T20 cricket.
Apart from the catches and stumpings, wicket keeper Dhoni's inputs to bowlers is doing wonders to Indian cricket, according to former Sri Lanka all-rounder Russel Arnold. Notably, the World Cup-winning captain has been lauded for guiding young wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal into outfoxing opposition batsmen.
"He knows their [bowlers'] minds inside out. MS [Dhoni] is good at reading the batsman as well. He generally tries to give a cue to the bowler about changing the line or pace. The bowlers tend to trust him," Arnold said during a post-match show on Star Sports after the first T20I.
He added: "There is a great understanding between the bowler and the keeper, which is doing wonders for India."