New Delhi: Former India captain Ravi Shastri feels Mahendra Singh Dhoni needs improvement as far as his batting in Test cricket is concerned but said he is doing a decent job as a skipper in the five-day format.
"There is room for improvement [for Dhoni] as a Test batsman," said Shastri. "But as a Test captain, he has been made to struggle because of the inability of bowlers to take 20 wickets on foreign pitches. It has influenced the decisions on field placements and tactics. He will get better as a Test captain in time to come. The job is his in all formats for some time to come," Shastri told PTI in an interview.
Shastri, who will turn 50 on Sunday, refused to believe that Twenty20 has had a corrosive influence on Test cricket and the players. "I feel Test cricket would survive because of Twenty20 cricket. Twenty20 is bringing more people to the ground, more people to play and more people to spend time in front of television. The game would have shrunk to four or five countries in coming decades but for the passion which T20 has ignited," the former cricketer said.
Although Shastri agreed that T20 cricket has its pitfalls - like the spinners not developing in an economy-oriented bowling demands or the fast bowlers looking to bowl line and length rather than hustle the batsmen out. "Young spinners are looking to bowl flatter and contain rather than take wickets. The basis of spin bowling is flight and the ability to turn the ball and deceive the batsman in flight," he said.
"A genuine fast bowler must look to bowl quick in whatever format he plays. He must do whatever it takes to retain the fitness and that mental edge. If it means cutting down on his engagements, so be it. The stress should be on quality, not quantity," Shastri insisted. .
Stating that he would have loved to play the IPL, Shastri said: "The buzz and entertainment, on and off the field, would have been right up my street. An odd after-match party would have added to the thrill. I emphasise on odd."
Meanwhile, speaking about the future of Indian cricket, Shastri said that the youngsters must be backed but they must be good enough to replace the seniors. "Virat [Kohli] has been outstanding in seizing his chances. Rohit [Sharma] too needs an extended run in international cricket. He needs to get all the opportunity. Time has come to back youth and invest in them. But they must be good enough to replace the seniors. Age alone shouldn't determine a career."
Asked what has been more rewarding for him - a spell as a cricketer or commentator - Shastri said, "It's been a thrilling life. Nothing beats like playing the game on the field but doing commentary requires extreme focus. It's more of a mental than a physical demand. I have been able to catch up with most as a commentator."
Strong adversaries such as Michael Holding, Wasim Akram and Ian Botham are now closer than ever. Working with the likes of a [Ian] Chappell, [Richie] Benaud and [Tony] Greig has been a riveting experience. It's been a heck of a journey. It has given me the exposure to travel the world. It has kept the mind and body healthy."