India needs Dhoni at the World Cup, says Gautam Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir felt that Indian batsmen in the ODI set-up ought to have played domestic cricket as a part of the preparation for the 2019 World Cup.

Published : Jan 22, 2019 21:17 IST , Bengaluru

M.S. Dhoni deserves to play at the 2019 World Cup, according Gautam Gambhir.
M.S. Dhoni deserves to play at the 2019 World Cup, according Gautam Gambhir.

M.S. Dhoni deserves to play at the 2019 World Cup, according Gautam Gambhir.

Rishabh Pant will have to wait for his place in the Indian ODI team, believes Gautam Gambhir.

"They’ve got M.S. Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik there; he can wait for his opportunity," he said here on Tuesday.

"Obviously, he (Pant) has done well in Test cricket. He’s doing all the right things. But if you’ve got Dhoni, who’s got man of the series, he deserves to be there now. And it’s so close to the World Cup, you need someone like Dhoni. Karthik has been in decent form as well, over the last four-five months. The good thing is Rishabh is keeping them on their toes."

Read: 'The No 4 slot suits M.S. Dhoni,' says Suresh Raina

Gambhir was speaking at an event to launch Funngage PowerPlayer, a nationwide cricket scholarship programme. The Indian one-day team should not be tinkered with ahead of the World Cup, the former opener felt.

"I’m sure the team management has finalised the 15. You probably can shuffle a little in the 15, but I don’t believe in changing too many things because consistency will give any player freedom to express himself. We only have ten ODIs left before the World Cup. So we should give people who are going to play the first game of the World Cup these ten games and see how they deliver," he said.

Gambhir also spoke about the match when he gave away his man of the match award to Virat Kohli after he scored his first international hundred.

Gambhir agreed with the view that Shikhar Dhawan and Dhoni ought to have played first-class cricket before turning out for India in the Australian ODI series. "Absolutely. Why do you skip it? Because ultimately you will get confidence by scoring runs, not by hitting the nets. You can’t be thinking, ‘I’m going to come back into form just by playing international cricket.’ It’s a World Cup year and you’ve got to be in prime form," he said.

"Whether it was MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, or Ambati Rayudu...all those guys who went to Australia (should have been asked to play first-class cricket). It’s a World Cup year, so I think the selectors should have made everyone play domestic cricket."

Gambhir was reminded of the time he gave away his 'man of the match' award to Virat Kohli, on the occasion of the latter's first international hundred, on Christmas eve in Kolkata in 2009. Did he imagine that day that Kohli would, nine years on, be making a clean sweep of the ICC awards? “Whatever he’s achieved is all because of his hard work," Gambhir said. "I shared it (the award) because it was his first international hundred. I wanted to make him feel special because your first hundred always stays close to your heart. Whenever he sees that trophy he should remember that.”

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