MSK Prasad, chairman of Board of Control for Cricket in India's ( BCCI) senior selection panel, has defended Mahendra Singh Dhoni's selection in India's 15-member squad for the Champions Trophy, saying the 35-year-old is still the best wicketkeeper in the world and is an invaluable asset to the team.
Dhoni has been facing flak from all corners owing to his inconsistent run with the bat in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
'How many of us still believe that MSD is the best wicketkeeper in the world?' ESPNcricinfo quoted Prasad as saying. He said that Dhoni mustn't be viewed as a pure batsman, but as a wicketkeeper too.
'We all believe he is still the best wicketkeeper in the world,' Prasad said. 'We are only talking and focusing on his batting form. He is an invaluable asset to this team. When it comes to crunch situations, [with] his inputs, I think he has got one of the best brains. He is the best person to guide Virat [Kohli],' he insisted.
The 35-year-old has scored 443 runs at an average of 34.07 in 13 ODIs since January last year, compared to his career average of 51.
Talking about his IPL stint in this season, the wicketkeeper-batsman has compiled 235 runs for Rising Pune Supergiant at a strike rate of 114.07 - his worst across all seasons of the tournament.
India's Champions Trophy Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandey, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Manish Pandey.
Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik have been put on standby.