Dhoni is set to embark on what is in all likelihood his final ICC World Cup appearance when the showpiece event gets underway in England at the end of May this year. Now 37, Dhoni had become the second Indian skipper after Kapil Dev to lift the World Cup when he oversaw the Men in Blue’s triumph over Sri Lanka in the final of the 2011 edition held at Mumbai.
Apart from the 50-over world title, Dhoni also led India to victory in the maiden ICC World Twenty20 competition held in South Africa in 2007.
The veteran wicketkeeper had endured a lean 2018 with the bat in limited-overs cricket which had invited plenty of criticism and question marks over his place in the ODI side from pundits and former players.
Kapil Dev, who led India to their maiden World Cup title in 1983, feels that Dhoni’s contributions speak for themselves.
“I don’t have to say anything about Dhoni. I think he has served the country very well and we must respect him,” the India legend told IANS.
“No one knows how long he wants to play and how long his body can continue to take the workload. But, there is no other cricketer who has served the country so well as Dhoni. We should respect him and wish him good luck. I hope that he wins this World Cup too,” he added.
The former India skipper also commented on Rishabh Pant’s omission from India’s 15-man 2019 World Cup squad with Dinesh Karthik being preferred instead of him.
“The selectors have done their job. Let’s respect the team. They have picked Karthik over Pant, then it’s alright. We should just believe that the selectors have done a good job,” Kapil Dev said.
The 23-year-old pacer has been sidelined with an ankle injury for some time now and he is not the only injury worry for Bangladesh’s bowling unit ahead of their England and Ireland sojourns.
Rubel Hossain is currently battling a side strain while his fellow pacer Mohammad Saifuddin is recuperating from a tennis elbow injury.
With Bangladesh set to participate in an ODI tri-series in Ireland also involving West Indies prior to starting their World Cup campaign, Walsh has warned of the dangers of rushing Mustafizur back from injury.
“(Mustafizur) has got a big role to play in the World Cup, once he is fit,” Walsh was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
“Fizz hasn’t been as sharp since his injury, and he keeps picking up slight niggles. A fully fit Mustafizur can win games for you but we have to have him as fit as possible.
“We have a bit of time on our side. My concern is that I hope we don’t over-rush him, and probably use him too much in Ireland, and he is not fresh for the World Cup.”
The Windies pace legend believes that the pitches in England for the World Cup will be extremely flat and challenging for Bangladesh’s bowlers.
“It will be a big challenge. The World Cup is going to be long tournament. There are going to be some good cricket wickets, which are batting-friendly. We have to be intelligent, and try to execute well,” Walsh said.
“We have to read the conditions and the surfaces we play. Some places the ball might swing more than others. We have to assess when we get there. Most of the wickets will be docile and flat. We have to work on our variations and execution,” he added.
Bangladesh open their World Cup campaign on June 2 when they take on South Africa at the Oval in London.
Pakistan are set to depart for England on Tuesday where they will first take on the hosts in a five-match ODI series and a one-off T20 before commencing their World Cup operations.
The Men in Green do not go to England in the best of forms having suffered an embarrassing 5-0 ODI whitewash at the hands of Australia in the UAE but that has done little to dampen Sarfraz’s optimism.
“Look, when we go as favourites, then it’s a problem, but if we go as underdogs then other teams feel the danger, so I think being underdogs is good for us and eases the pressure,” the wicketkeeper-batsman stated in a press conference in Lahore on Monday.
Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur was in confident mood as well in the media interaction with the South African targeting a semi-final run at the minimum.
“I think these are exciting times for Pakistan cricket and for the team,” said Arthur.
Sarfaraz Ahmed (left) and Mickey Arthur held their press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium on Monday. The team leaves for England for a T20I and five ODIs, and the @cricketworldcup early Tuesday morning.@SarfarazA_54#WeHaveWeWill— PCB Official (@TheRealPCB) April 22, 2019
ICYMI watch it here: https://t.co/YAp31RSNmK pic.twitter.com/copUNPGiyd
“The initial thing is to qualify for the last four and take it from there, so I think we have the potential to certainly go all the way but before that we have to play very well,” he added.
With all 10 participating teams set to play each other in the rejigged format, all eyes will be on Pakistan’s clash with arch-rivals India on June 16 at Old Trafford in Manchester.
India have beaten Pakistan in each of the six previous World Cup clashes between the two sides but skipper Sarfraz is taking confidence from his side’s 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final triumph over their neighbours.
“For us all nine matches are important so we will take every match as a match against India,” Sarfraz opined.
“We have beaten India in a bigger event recently so we will have that advantage,” he continued.
A 17-man Pakistan squad will depart for England on Tuesday with Mohammad Amir and Asif Ali as the two extra players added for the five-match ODI series against the hosts. Leg-spinner Shadab Khan has been ruled out of the ODI series with a virus and it will be Yasir Shah who will take his place in the squad.