By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata– M.S. Dhoni should be part of India’s T20 World Cup squad even if he does not play the Indian Premier League (IPL), due to the coronavirus outbreak, feels his childhood coach Keshav Banerjee.
The IPL, which had already been postponed to April 15, could be cancelled after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day countrywide lockdown beginning Wednesday to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
India head coach Ravi Shastri had told IANS last year that the IPL would decide the fate of Dhoni, who will turn 39 in July. The former India captain was practicing with his team Chennai Super Kings (CSK) but had to cut short his stay in Chennai after the IPL was pushed back.
“In a World Cup, you need experience. Rishabh Pant is still learning an K.L. Rahul as a keeper for a World Cup, I don’t think that’s the best idea when Dhoni is available for selection,” Banerjee told IANS from Ranchi.
“We all know what Dhoni brings to the table. The bowlers speak about it all the time. Sure, he was ready for the IPL and he hasn’t played since the World Cup but I have spoken to him and I have seen him practice in Chennai, he never looked like he was away for so long,” Banerjee said.
Asked what he gauged about Dhoni’s mindset during their recent conversations in Ranchi before the two-time World Cup winning skipper left for Chennai, Banerjee said: “As cool as ever. He doesn’t give much away but I did not see him worried or anything. He wore that smile I have always seen on his face, as affectionate as ever.”
Legends like Sunil Gavaskar and Virender Sehwag have said that it is difficult for Dhoni to comeback into the fold.
“This Indian team still needs him in a World Cup. Behind the wicket, he is an asset and in the middle he still binds the innings together,” Banerjee added, backing his ward who led India to 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 50-over World Cup titles besides winning the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy as captain. (IANS)