Dharamsala: Ahead of India’s first T20I against South Africa, captain Virat Kohli heaped praise on MS Dhoni and said nobody should give opinions on the wicketkeeper-batsman’s international future and it is up to him to decide when to stop playing cricket.

India host Proteas in a three-T20I rubber starting in Dharamsala on Sunday (September 15). However, Dhoni is not part of the squad. BCCI selection panel chief MSK Prasad had said the former skipper is still not available to play after he had opted out of the West Indies tour as he went to serve in the Army.

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On the eve of the first T20I, Kohli said Dhoni’s experience was vital for Indian cricket and there is no replacement for that.

“Experience is always going to matter whether you like it or not. Many players have proven in the past that age is just a number and even Dhoni has done that a lot in his career. One thing great about him is that he thinks for Indian cricket. When to stop playing cricket, is completely an individual decision. No one should give opinions regarding the matter," Kohli said at the pre-match press conference on Saturday (September 14).

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The skipper also clarified as to why he posted a picture on social media on September 12, saluting Dhoni, which led to speculations over the latter’s retirement. The Delhi batsman had posted a throwback image from ICC World Twenty20 2016.

"I did not have anything on my mind, I was just sitting at my home and I just uploaded the picture. It became news, it is a lesson for me about what I think about myself, the world does not necessarily see it that way. That game is very special, I have not openly talked about it so that is why I uploaded the picture but people took it otherwise," Kohli said.

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Even Prasad had clarified that Dhoni was not retiring from international cricket. Also, Dhoni’s wife Sakshi took to Twitter to say they are “rumours”.