MUMBAI: Close to 14 years after he first arrived on the international scene, former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni continues to be the benchmark for top Team India cricketers where fitness is concerned.
As the Chennai Super Kings walked away with their third IPL title last week, Dhoni’s supreme fitness remained the buzz throughout the last two months. Former Team India physical trainer Ramji Srinivasan – who worked with the CSK franchise from two weeks before the start of the 2018 edition – says “MS is still the fittest of them all in the Team India ranks”.
The Super Kings camp invited Ramji to conduct a pre tournament fitness camp for the players and given that the franchise was a classic mix of cricketers from different age groups, the Chennai-based trainer says “Dhoni once again led by example”.
Ramji’s view on Dhoni’s fitness and the former skipper continuing to be the benchmark comes at a time when more than 40-odd cricketers will arrive in Bangalore starting first week of June to undergo fitness tests at various levels before their respective assignments. “Between the 5th and the 10th, fitness tests alone will be the priority,” say BCCI sources.
On May 8, the national selectors had announced five different squads for India and India ‘A’ keeping the one-off Test against Afghanistan, T20s against Ireland and England, ODIs against England, India ‘A’ one-dayers against England Lions and West Indies ‘A’ and India ‘A’ four-day matches in mind.
As fitness continues to remain the top-most priority in the middle of what is an extremely challenging season, the 36-year-old Dhoni continues to remain the yardstick for the younger cricketers to pursue. “Look at the shape he’s in, considering he’s not playing round the year. Extremely impressive. He’s the one from who the rest should be seeking inspiration,” says Ramji.