‘One of the best ever to play the game,’ Australian players on MS Dhoni before probable final tour Down Under

MS Dhoni has played 332 ODIs in which he has scored 10,173 runs at an average of 50.11. (PTI Photo)

Veteran wicketkeeper and former India captain MS Dhoni has received plaudits from his peers in the Australian dressing room. Dhoni, who will be taking his place behind the stumps for India in the upcoming three-match ODI series in Australia, has played 332 ODIs in which he has scored 10,173 runs at an average of 50.11. "I think he is one of the best wicketkeeper-batsmen to ever play the game. He is right up there, no doubt about that, particularly in white-ball cricket," said Australia Test captain and wicketkeeper Tim Paine.

"Hopefully he doesn’t get too many runs but it’s certainly going to be nice to have him here for a little bit. I’m happy I won’t be out there against him. What I do love about watching him play, whether he is batting or keeping and captaining, he keeps things very simple," Paine said. "That’s just from what I can see. Cricket is very complicated game and I’ve enjoyed watching him really simplify it still in this modern age. He just looks like he does the basics pretty well, stays real relaxed and-at his age from the pressure he would be under in India and around the world-he looks like he just loves playing cricket."

Australia’s limited overs captain Aaron Finch said that the way Dhoni has led India "under the most extreme cricket scrutiny for a long time has been unbelievable." "I think that he’s obviously one of the all-time greats of the game. It will be a sad day if he doesn’t come back to Australia after this tour, he’s a brilliant entertainer and someone that people pay money to come through the gates to watch," he said.

Batsman Usman Khawaja, who has played with Dhoni in the IPL as part of Rising Pune Supergiant, said that the 2011 World Cup winning captain is someone he enjoys playing with. "He’s obviously a legend of a cricketer but he’s such a good bloke and so relaxed," Khawaja said. "I love playing cricket with him and on the same team because I think we’re quite similar in the way we play. He concentrates on the controllables, doesn’t worry about the rest, doesn’t let a lot faze him, understands there’s a lot of up and downs in cricket and I think he’s experienced that throughout his career and the way he plays and the way he goes about it. He’s one of the guys I really enjoy playing with and he’s such a good bloke, so yeah there’ll be a big crowd to see him probably one last time in Australia."

Under Dhoni, India have won the top prize in all three formats. His first assignment was to lead the team in the inaugural World T20 in 2007 and they went on to win the tournament. As Test skipper, he led the team to the no.1 ranking for the first time ever in December 2009 where they stayed for 18 months. Finally, he led India to the World Cup title in 2011.

He announced his retirement from Test cricket suddenly during India’s 2014-15 tour of Australia. He continued as India’s limited overs captain until January 2017, when he handed over the baton to current skipper Virat Kohli. The 37-year-old has 16 international centuries to his name and effected more than 800 dismissals behind the stumps.