A day before heading to England for the upcoming World Cup, coach Ravi Shastri said MS Dhoni will play a major role in boosting India’s bid to regain the title, harping on the veteran’s ability to influence the game’s little moments.
"Massive as it has always been," Shastri said while addressing a press conference in Mumbai on Tuesday. "He 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 which can change it on the head and there was no one better than him," he added.
Dhoni, who is speculated to feature in his final World Cup, was in supreme form in the recently-concluded Indian Premier League. The 37-year-old amassed 416 runs at an average of 83.2 in the last IPL and led Chennai Super Kings to the final and the coach said that he was impressed with the former India skipper’s footwork during IPL 2019.
"It is great to see the way he 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 said.
The India coach also feels that the upcoming showpiece event will be very challenging considering the quality of the opposition teams and the change in format. For the first time since 1992, the World Cup is being played in a round-robin format.
"It will be very challenging. If you look at 2014 and 2019 now, the gap has become closer between the teams. You see what Afghanistan, Bangladesh were in 2014 and what they are now, so it is a strong competition. West Indies, on paper, is as strong as any other team," he said.
Speaking on the conditions in England, Shastri said, "I think our mantra will be to be flexible according to the conditions because this is one country in the world where the pitches may be flat but if there is overcast condition then you have to be up for it."
"In no other country, overcast conditions matter so much but in England they do, London might not make that difference but if you go up north and it does get overcast then you will see things happen, so we have to be ready for that and prepare to be flexible."
The India coach also emphasised on the fact that India should enjoy playing at this stage and if the team play to their full potential then the Men In Blue have a great chance to clinch their third World Cup title.
"This team has played good cricket in last five years. They have been striving for consistency. They will not play any differently because it is World Cup. They need to enjoy it and if they play to their potential the Cup can be ours," Shastri said.
Talking about the bowling attack, the coach said: "This is an experienced unit. They have been together for the last 4-5 years, they have bowled as a unit together, they accomplished what they set out to do in Tests and the endeavour will be the same here as well, to complement each other and keep the pressure right through the 50 overs."
Asked if the World Cup should have playoffs like the IPL, Shastri responded in the affirmative. "I have always said that, that’s why the IPL format is fantastic, you never know in future, down the line, they (ICC) might think of doing it because of what exactly you said, you know that can happen, but at this moment of time, we will have to just say bad luck," he said.