NEW DELHI: Faster than the best pickpockets as wicketkeeper and a cricketer who changed the game for all times to come, said India coach Ravi Shastri on the just-retired Mahendra Singh Dhoni, adding a bit of quirkiness to the emotional tributes that have poured in.
Dhoni bid adieu to international cricket on Saturday, posting “consider me retired” on his Instagram page. Shastri offered his take on the impact made by the two-time World Cup-winner (T20I and ODI) in his trademark tongue-in-cheek style.
“This man is second to none, and coming from where he did, he changed cricket for all times to come. And his beauty is he did it in all formats,” Shastri told ‘India Today’.
“For me, what stood out was his stumpings and his run-outs. He had such fast hands that he was at times faster than any pickpocket,” he said.
Counting Dhoni’s achievements, Shastri said despite creating an enviable legacy, Dhoni’s calm demeanour made him unique.
“T20 – he has won a World Cup and multiple IPL titles. 50 overs – he has won a World Cup. Test cricket- he has taken India to the number one position in the world. Played 90 Test matches,” he said.
“And he always took life as it came. From his days in Kharagpur to his days as an Indian cricketer, he was always in the moment. And in retirement also, he has moved on.
“As I said, he is second to none,” he added.
Shastri said Dhoni set a new bar in wicketkeeping despite not being a “natural”.
“…but (he) was effective as hell. Look at the impact he had…The batsman wouldn’t even realise that Dhoni had taken the bails off and that’s something that added to his aura.
“In any list of cricket’s greatest, not greats but the greatest, you have to include this man,” he signed off.
Dhoni last played for India in July 2019 in the lost World Cup semifinal against New Zealand. He went on a sabbatical after that but remained a subject of intense speculation, which ended with his announcement on Saturday.
He will, however, be seen in action leading the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL from September 19 in the UAE. The event has been moved out of India this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.