I would play MS Dhoni in my team even if he's 80, and in a wheelchair: AB de Villiers

Avinash Sharma

New Delhi, Oct 23: Veteran India cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni hasn't been in the best of his form with the bat which many perceive is a concern in the run-up to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

Voices for MS Dhoni's retirement are growing up but the team management has shown its faith in the former captain who still remains the quickest man with the gloves and a perfect mentor for skipper Virat Kohli and other young players.

Now, former South Africa cricketer AB de Villiers has termed Dhoni's the retirement calls as 'funny'. De Villiers - who is hailed as one of finest limited-overs cricketers - has claimed that the 37-year-old Indian stalwart would feature in his team every day of every year, even if he is 80 and in a wheelchair.

When De Villiers was asked whether it was time for India to replace Dhoni, the South African told ANI, "You guys are funny. No, I would play MS Dhoni in my team every day of every year. He can be 80, in a wheelchair, and he would still play for my team. He is fantastic I mean look at his record. You want to drop a guy like that? You can go ahead by all means. I wouldn't."

A colossus in ODI cricket, of late Dhoni, is struggling with his batting and his scores have dwindled in the last few years. In the Asia Cup, Dhoni batted four times, scoring 77 runs with an average of 19.25 and a strike rate of 62.09. Overall in 2018, he has batted 10 times in 15 matches, for an average of 28.12 and a strike rate of 67.36. Dhoni has an unimpressive record in the seaming conditions of England where he is yet to score a century from 20 ODIs, and averages 38.06, a sharp drop from his career average of 50.61.

Several experts and former cricketers have been consistently backing Dhoni to bat at No.4 but captain Kohli and team management have stuck with the veteran at No.5 and 6.

India have 17-odd matches left for the World Cup and the think-tank has brought in dashing Delhi wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant in the mix with an aim to boost the lower middle-order.

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