Dhoni’s spot in the ODI outfit has been under pressure for sometime with young Pant knocking on the doors but the veteran silenced his detractors in style with a man-of-the-series display in India’s 2-1 ODI win over Australia.
Dhoni struck three consecutive half-centuries in the series and averaged a staggering 193 with the bat to lead India’s charge to victory. In an interview with Michael Vaughan for the Daily Telegraph, Shastri heaped praise on Dhoni’s contributions and said that the wicketkeeper can never be replaced in Indian cricket.
“You can’t (replace Dhoni),” the India head coach stated.
“Such players only come once in 30 or 40 years. That is what I tell Indians – enjoy it while it lasts. When he goes, you will see a void that will be very hard to fill. I know there is Rishabh Pant, but to be an ambassador for the sport for so long is amazing,” he added.
Though Pant is in direct competition with Dhoni for an ODI spot, Shastri revealed that the youngster has been doing his best to learn from the senior player whom he considers his idol.
“His (Pant) hero is MS. Every day he is on the phone to MS. I think during the Test series, he must have spoken more to MS than anyone else. It is great when you have that mutual respect. Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, the respect they have for each other is unbelievable, so it makes my job in the dressing room so much easier,” explained Shastri.
Pant has established himself as the first-choice wicketkeeper for India in the Test format but the 21-year-old has found opportunities hard to come by in the one-day format with Dhoni still going strong.
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