Ravi Shastri has seen Sachin Tendulkar get “angry at times” but not Mahendra Singh Dhoni, “a once in 40 years player” who will be very difficult to replace once he bids adieu to the game, according to India’s head coach.
The 37-year-old Dhoni, who was panned by critics for 51 off 96 balls in the first ODI against Australia, showed glimpses of his golden days by anchoring India to a series win with unbeaten knocks of 55 and 87 in the next two.
“He is a legend. He will go down as one of our great cricketers. I have never seen an individual so sound. I have seen Sachin at times get angry. Not this man,” Shastri told the ‘Daily Telegraph’.
Shastri made it clear that a player of Dhoni’s calibre can’t be replaced.
“You can’t. Such players only come once in 30 or 40 years. That is what I tell Indians. Enjoy while it lasts. When he goes you will see a void that will be very hard to fill,” he said.
The coach is hopeful that Rishabh Pant would live up to the hype surrounding him but insisted that Dhoni is something else.
When former England captain Michael Vaughan asked if Pant could be Dhoni in the next 20 years, Shastri replied: “I would love to. He has the talent. His hero is MS. Every day he is on the phone to MS. I think during the Test series he must have spoken more to MS than anyone else.”
It’s not just Dhoni’s role as a batsman that defines him but the master strategist in him that takes a lot of load off skipper Kohli’s shoulders.
“That is because he has the best angle. He sees things. He is great with the guys, they all worship him. This entire team has been built by him because he was captain for 10 years. To have that kind of respect in the dressing room and experience is massive,” said Shastri.
An introvert in real sense, Dhoni has not given any proper cricketing interview since 2011, says Shastri.
“Whether he gets a zero, gets a hundred, whether he wins the World Cup or loses in the first round, MS is the same man. He is simply consistent with his body language and composure. It amazes me how he does it. Since 2011 he has not given one interview.”