Virender Sehwag has put his weight behind former teammate Mahendra Singh Dhoni to continue performing wicket-keeping duties till the ICC World Cup 2019. Dhoni has had a lean time in the last few months, especially in the 50-over format. He failed to hit his straps from the get-go in the recent tour to the United Kingdom and came under severe criticism for not accelerating enough during India’s unsuccessful chase against England at Lord’s.
With Rishabh Pant’s stocks on the rise after the 20-year-old slammed a maiden century in the final Test at the Oval, clamours for his inclusion in the limited-overs side have started gaining voice slowly. The youngster has played four T20Is and is yet to feature in an ODI for India. However, Sehwag feels that Dhoni is the right candidate for the wicket-keeping role until the World Cup next year considering his vast experience.
“Even if you play Pant in ODIs from now, he won’t be able to play more than 15-16 ODIs till the World Cup which is far less compared to Dhoni, who has played over 300 ODIs. I would want Dhoni to continue till the World Cup,” said Sehwag in an interview India TV.
“Pant is someone who can hit sixes at his will, but when you talk about Dhoni, he has won matches single-handedly for the country.”
Sehwag though backed Pant to take over ‘keeping duties’ once Dhoni called time on his career.
“Pant has the right kind of the temperament to be a perfect heir for him. I want Dhoni to hand the baton to Pant when he hangs his boots,” Sehwag added.
With the six-team Asia Cup getting underway from September 15 in the UAE, Sehwag was confident India will successfully defend the title that they won last time around in Bangladesh in 2016.
India have been placed in Group B alongside qualifiers Hong Kong and arch-rivals Pakistan. They will be led by Rohit Sharma this time around with Virat Kohli rested for the event following a gruelling tour to the UK.
“If you look at the other teams in the tournament, Sri Lanka is not the same team as it was a few years ago and so is not supposed to mount a serious challenge. With Pakistan, one is never sure which team will turn up on a particular day, as they can be great or poor on any given day. India is the only team to play well consistently in the shorter forms across the world and therefore should win the Cup again,” said Sehwag
“Bangladesh have defeated India before and are a dangerous team but only in their own backyard. Outside the subcontinent, they have hardly ever defeated India and so there is not enough evidence that could prove that they are serious contenders for the title.”
First Published: September 14, 2018, 1:46 PM IST