India head coach Ravi Shastri has come out in support of former captain MS Dhoni, who was criticised by the media and pundits recently during the series against New Zealand.

The knives of Dhoni’s critics sharpened after the Rajkot T20I, which India lost by 40 runs. Despite scoring 49 from 37 balls, the Ranchi dasher’s struggles in the early part of his innings with the required run rate climbing up, came under the scanner. Former players such as Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag have criticised Dhoni’s performance, especially in T20Is.

However, Shastri batted for Dhoni, telling Anandabazar Patrika, “Looks like there are a lot of jealous people around, who just want MS Dhoni to have a couple of bad days. But the Indian team knows who Mahendra Singh Dhoni is and what he means to the team. There are a few people who are waiting to see the end of MS Dhoni, but great players like him decide their own future.”

Calling Dhoni “an ultimate team-man”, Shastri also took a dig at the former cricketers who had turned pundits on television. “Not so long ago I used to do television and people used to ask me questions,” Shastri was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times. “You need to answer questions to make a show happen.”

He added, “Dhoni is a superstar. He is one of our greatest cricketers. So he is always going to be a great topic. He is always going to be a topic because he is a legend. When you have a career as glorious as that, you become a topic on television.”

India skipper Virat Kohli had also come out and backed Dhoni, saying it was difficult for lower-order batsmen to play their shots compared to the top-order batters.

With inputs from AFP