Ahead of his side's opening T20I of the three-match series against Sri Lanka, Indian skipper Virat Kohli on Saturday heaped praises on Mahendra Singh Dhoni saying that the experienced wicketkeeper-batsman always thinks about the country's cricket and will always remain valuable member for the team.
Dhoni was not included in the 15-man Indian squad named by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for three-match series against South Africa, beginning on Sunday at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamshala.
Speaking on the eve of the match, Kohli said that Dhoni will continue to remain the valuable part of the team till the time he continues to play and remain available for selection.
"Experience is always going to matter whether you like it or not. Numerous number of times people have given up on sportsmen and they have proved people wrong. Dhoni has done that many times in his career as well. One great thing about him is that he thinks for Indian Cricket.He is on the same page. The alignment is there. The kind of minsdset he has to groom youngsters and give people opportunities. He is still the same person," Kohli said in a press conference.
"When to stop playing cricket is absolutely an individual decision and no one else should have any opinion regarding the same. As long as he is available and continues to play, he is always going to be very valuable," he added.
Earlier this week, Kohli's tweet on MS Dhoni sparked rumours that the former Indian skipper might announce his retirement from international cricket anytime soon.
Kohli posted a picture of him and Dhoni after India defeated Australia in a must-win clash during the 2016 World T20 in Mohali. It was one of the best innings for the Indian skipper (unbeaten at 82), whose running between the wicket with Dhoni (18 not out) was a treat to watch.
“A game I can never forget. Special night. This man, made me run like in a fitness test,” Kohli had wrote along with the picture.
Reflecting on the same, Kohli said he didn't know that his tweet will be taken as retirement tribute for Dhoni.
“I think it was a lesson for me, that the way I think, the whole world does not think in the same way. While putting that picture out on social media, i didn't think that the tweet could be taken as the retirement tribute ” Kohli said.
It is to be noted that Dhoni has not played for India since the side's semi-final exit at the World Cup, during which the former Indian skipper was also criticised for slow strike-rate.