Rohit Sharma has highlighted the importance of having MS Dhoni on the team and has backed the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman to continue representing the country in the 50-over and T20 formats.
The opening batsman, who led the Indian team to ODI and T20I series wins against Sri Lanka earlier this month, hit back at Dhoni's critics saying "many cannot understand" what the 36-year-old offers to the team while referring to his "invaluable" inputs to the youngsters on and off the field.
Dhoni's place in the India limited-over sides, especially T20Is, has been questioned by critics, including former cricketers of the likes of VVS Laxman, Aakash Chopra and Ajit Agarkar.
The three even opined it was time for Dhoni to make way for youngsters in the T20I format after the veteran had come up with disappointing performances with the bat in a T20I series against New Zealand in November.
However, the World Cup-winning former captain seems to have silenced his critics with some crucial contributions to the Indian team during the recently-concluded Sri Lanka series. Apart from his exploits with the bat, Dhoni's guidance in the absence of skipper Virat Kohli worked wonders for the hosts.
Rohit lauds Dhoni's recent performances
"In recent times, his performance has been no less than that of any other player in the team," Rohit told Aaj Tak, as quoted by India Today.
He added: "You could see for yourself how [Jasprit] Bumrah, Kuldeep [Yadav], [Yuzvendra] Chahal or any other bowler seek Dhoni's advice. Standing behind the stumps, he (Dhoni) knows what the bowler is trying to do."
"Thus, he brings a lot to the table which many cannot understand. His inputs to bowlers are so important," he said.
"He has won so many tournaments for India. His experience is huge. He is still in the team as a leader. He continues to guide all the boys and his inputs are valuable."
Rohit further said, "We started playing cricket under the leadership of MS Dhoni. He stood by us when there was nobody. He has guided and helped so many youngsters. He knows how to take team out of difficult situations. By virtue of his experience, he reads the situations perfectly."
Shastri blasts Dhoni's critics
Rohit's comments come a day after Ravi Shastri blasted Dhoni's critics, saying the Ranchi dasher can "beat players aged 26". The head coach of the Indian team stressed the veteran stumper, who retired from the longest format of the game in 2014, should keep playing a lot of cricket in the lead-up to 2019 Cricket World Cup.
"Till today you don't have a wicketkeeper to replace him in the one-day team. He is still one of the best around, not only in the Indian team, but in the world," Shastri told India Today.
He added: "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."