Mumbai: Veteran Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh Friday said Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s presence was crucial to the country’s World Cup chances as he is a ‘guiding’ force for current captain Virat Kohli and ‘important’ in decision-making.
Dhoni’s place in the side has been a subject of debate owing to his inconsistent form but many, including former captain Sunil Gavaskar, have said his tremendous grasp of match situations makes him invaluable.
The 37-year-old left-handed batsman was speaking after being announced as the brand ambassador of sports-tech startup LivePools at suburban Bandra.
Yuvraj, the 2011 World Cup’s Player of the Tournament, echoed the sentiment when asked about the Dhoni factor here at an interaction. “I think Mahi (Dhoni) has a great cricket brain. And as a wicket-keeper, you are in the best position to monitor the game and he has done that fantastically over the years. He has been a great captain. (He is) with the young players and guiding Virat (Kohli) all the time,” Yuvraj said.
“So, I feel his presence is very important in decision-making. He had a fantastic tournament in Australia and it is good to see him hit the ball how he used to, and I wish him all the best,” added the batsman.
But Yuvraj steered clear of queries on which batting position Dhoni should come in. “That you have to ask Dhoni, which number he has to bat,” he said.
Yuvraj will be competing for Mumbai Indians in the IPL and said he will look to ease the pressure on skipper Rohit Sharma.
“I think, if I can contribute in the middle-order, it will just take some weight off him (Rohit) and he can just go and play his natural game, while opening. (We will) see how the combinations (go),” Yuvraj told reporters here.
He found a buyer quite late at the IPL players’ auction held in Jaipur last December for his base price of Rs 1 crore after going unsold initially. “I’m very fired up, boss; I have been training in the nets every day,” said Yuvraj.
He also lauded fellow Punjab player Shubman Gill, who recently made his India One Day debut in New Zealand, saying his progress over the last one year has been amazing. “I was excited to see him (Shubman) play for India. It is amazing how he has improved so much. He came back from the (India) A tour, scored a lot of runs in domestic cricket, straightaway got an opportunity,” said Yuvraj.
Yuvraj was also pleased with the rise of teams like Vidarbha, Gujarat and Saurashtra in the domestic circuit. “Very impressed with Vidarbha, they have got some great players. They have got an outstanding coach — Chandrakant Pandit — who’s definitely got the best out of the team. Also impressed with how domestic cricket is improving, the other teams are improving… Saurashtra are playing well, Gujarat has also been playing very well, so it is good to see that in domestic cricket,” he said.