GUWAHATI: Former India captain Sourav Ganguly on Sunday backed struggling Mahendra Singh Dhoni to do well in the World Cup and said the ongoing series against West Indies would be crucial for the veteran stumper looking forward to next year's showpiece event.
A colossus in ODI cricket, of late Dhoni, is struggling with his batting and his scores have dwindled in the last few years.
Starting with the five-match ODI series against West Indies here, India has 18-odd matches left for the World Cup and the think-tank has brought in dashing Delhi wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant in the mix to spice up the scenario.
"I don't know what combination they are thinking of. But I'm sure he (Dhoni) will do well in the World Cup. It's (against West Indies) big series for him," Ganguly told PTI at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium while watching the ODI with Assam governor Jagdish Mukhi. In the Asia Cup, Dhoni batted four times, scoring 77 runs with an average of 19.25 and a strike rate of 62.09.
Overall in 2018, he has batted 10 times in 15 matches, for an average of 28.12 and a strike rate of 67.36.
Dhoni has an unimpressive record in the seaming conditions of England where he is yet to score a century from 20 ODIs, and averages 38.06, a sharp drop from his career average of 50.61."His overall record is very good," Ganguly pointed out.
"It all depends how the players perform going ahead to the World Cup. It's about scoring runs. That's why Pant has been given a chance," he added.
All 10 teams will play each other in a round-robin format, with the top four qualifying for the semi-finals in the next year's World Cup beginning with England versus South Africa at the Oval on May 30.
"India are a good ODI side. This World Cup will be worth watching. All teams play all and the best four go. It will be a competitive one," Ganguly said.
Hosting its first ODI, the Assam Cricket Association invited Ganguly as the guest of honour and was felicitated with traditional Assamese gamcha (towel) and xorai, an offering pot with a stand at the bottom, a decorative symbol of Assam used for offering tamul pan (betel nut and leaves). Ganguly also launched ACA's souvenir.