MS Dhoni and Ravi Shastri
File photo of MS Dhoni and Ravi ShastriReuters

Known for his bombastic boasts and big statements, India cricket team coach Ravi Shastri, while addressing a press conference on the eve of Indian cricket team's departure to England for the 2019 World Cup, made another strong comment.

Talking about Mahendra Singh Dhoni's importance to the team, the former India all-rounder declared, "Massive as it has always been. He (Dhoni) is right there, his communication has been fantastic. As a keeper, he has shown over the years that no one is better than him in this format, not just in taking catches, inflicting those run-outs or stumping. These are little moments in the game that can change it on the head and there was no one better than him."

Faithful to Dhoni

It must be remembered that Shastri has always been a big supporter of Dhoni. Even as a commentator, he was often critical of those who questioned his performances while during his tenure as the head coach, the 56-year old has been even more aggressive in defending the World Cup-winning captain.

Doubts about the form of Dhoni were laid to rest by his solid performances in the tours of Australia and New Zealand as well as during the IPL for Chennai Super Kings. "It is great to see the way he (Dhoni) was moving in the IPL, especially when he was batting. The footwork, the power with which he was hitting the shots, he will be a big player in this World Cup," Shastri predicted.

After suffering a lean patch in 2018, Dhoni was able regain his form at the start of the year with the 3-match ODI series in Australia. His stats in 2019 look quite impressive. In 9 matches, he has scored 327 runs at an average of 81.75 with 4 fifties. In IPL this year, the captain of CSK amassed 416 runs and registered an average of 83.2. Some of the innings that he played in the league were as good as anything seen in the past from the Indian legend. Will the 2019 World Cup witness the Dhoni of old or a shadow of the great cricketer he was, only time will tell. But, one thing is certain, he has the full backing of his team.