India’s head coach Ravi Shastri dismissed any speculation about Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s future, backing the veteran wicket-keeper and batsman to continue till the 2019 World Cup, in an interview to India TV on Wednesday.

“A player is evaluated on the basis of his current form and fitness and Dhoni has both. If you see his wicket-keeping, he is the best in ODI cricket,” said Shastri. “His fitness is superb, he batted well in Sri Lanka. And let me tell you, it was just a trailer what you saw in Sri Lanka... now wait for the movie.”

Dhoni scored 162 runs in India’s series against Sri Lanka at a strike-rate of 82.23. He still manages to pull off quick stumpings, dispelling any doubts about his hunger, form or fitness.

And Shastri seemed to agree, lavishing the former Indian captain with more praise: “If he continues to play like this, there no question of not having him in the team for the 2019 World Cup. You can’t even think of a team without Dhoni”.

Not afraid to sledge Australia back: Shastri

The coach also stated that his team would not hesitate to use verbal volleys against Australia in their upcoming series. “If the Australians sledge us, we will not stay quiet. We will also retaliate,” said Shastri, while commenting on the fact that that the rivalry between the two countries was among the biggest in cricket.

The coach also repeated his earlier statement that the team was playing too much cricket with the top three, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, all needing timely rest to manage their workload.

“I have asked the BCCI to keep more gaps between the series,” said Shastri. “Players should get proper rest as they get mentally tired and it can affect their performance on the field.”

Finally, the coach also clarified that the door was not shut on veterans Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina and that any player who excelled in the following parameters – fitness, current form and fielding – was eligible for selection.

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