Former India skipper MS Dhoni has stunned Jharkhand coach Rajiv Kumar with his fluent batting even as the stumper started training for the first time since India's loss in the semifinal of the 2019 World Cup against New Zealand in July last year. Speaking to IANS, Kumar said that he was expecting a little rustiness from the batsman, but the balls seemed to be hitting the middle of the bat. The coach went on to add that the Chennai Super Kings skipper's preparations have begun for the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League.
"I will be honest... I thought there will be a bit of rustiness as Dhoni has not trained for quite some time. The last time we had spoken, he had said that he would start in January and here you go. He is a man of his words and it came as no surprise that he was out there training with the guys just like any other regular Jharkhand player. But what surprised me most was how he middled almost every ball, be it in the pacer's net or the spinner's net. He even took throwdowns just like a player going through the batting drills does.
"I haven't had any talks with him with regards to the national team and him donning the India jersey again. But, his preparations for the next edition of the IPL has begun and while the senior team will be busy playing the Ranji Trophy game from Sunday, Dhoni will continue training till the time he is in Ranchi," the coach pointed.
Asked if Dhoni did anything specific in the two days that he has trained so far, Kumar said the former skipper spent a lot of time talking to the bowlers.
"He is such a professional and has been going on spending time with the youngsters, especially the bowlers. He is discussing the line and length that they should target and the ways to fox the opposition batsmen. He has been as vocal as can be expected from a senior player like Dhoni," Kumar said.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Thursday announced the men's central contracts for the period between October 2019 and September 2020 and the major omission was Dhoni. While eyebrows were raised if this meant the end of the road for the Man with the Midas Touch, BCCI officials as well as head coach Ravi Shastri have made it clear that the IPL will decide if Dhoni will board the plane to Australia to play in the World T20.
"It all depends on when he starts playing and how he is playing during the IPL. Also, what are the other people doing with the wicket-keeping gloves or what is the form of those players as opposed to Dhoni's form. The IPL becomes a massive tournament because that could be the last event after which more or less your 15 will be decided.
"There might be one player who might be there and thereabouts in case of an injury or whatever. But your team, I would say, would be known after the IPL. What I would say is rather than speculating who is where, wait for the IPL to get over and then you are in a position to take a call on who are the best 17 in the country," Shastri had told IANS.