Bengaluru: With age, MS Dhoni, the wicketkeeper, is getting better. He has time and again demonstrated his skills behind the stumps. Looking at his lightning quick work with the big gloves has made former India stumper Deep Dasgupta anoint Dhoni as the best wicketkeeper in the world.

Dasgupta, who was in Bengaluru recently as a TV commentator for the Ranji Trophy semi-final between Karnataka and Saurashtra, said Dhoni and Wriddhiman Saha are “right there at the top” as wicketkeepers in the world.

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In an exclusive chat with MyNation, Dasgupta, when asked about who is the best wicketkeeper in the world, explained, “Keeping-wise I would say MS Dhoni (is the best in the world). He has got his unique style. He is right there at the top, only as a keeper, forget his other aspects.”

He continued, “And, also Wriddhiman Saha. He is one of the best keepers I have seen. Then, in world cricket, you have got quite a few good wicketkeepers. You have BJ Watling (New Zealand), who is very good. I thought Tim Paine (Australia Test captain) was very good. You have good keepers around. Then, you have (Quinton) de Kock (South Africa), who is a little bit different.”

The 37-year-old Dhoni has retired from Tests and plays only limited-overs formats. However, lack of matches has not had an impact on his reflexes on the ground. It is seen in the ongoing ODI series against New Zealand.

Dhoni, the batsman too excelled during the recent ODI rubber in Australia. He hit three consecutive half centuries to send a strong message to his critics.

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When Dasgupta, who played eight Tests and five ODIs, was asked about the constant scrutiny on Dhoni, he said it had to stop.

“More than the debate (on Dhoni), it was trying to figure out what is the game plan in the middle order. Finally, they have figured out with Dhoni as the fulcrum and everyone plays around him. Because, with his maturity, reading of the game, it is very important,” the 41-year-old said.

According to Dasgupta, there is nobody other than Dhoni in world cricket who could time a run-chase better. He called Dhoni “the composer in this whole symphony”.

“The most important aspect of chasing down totals is how you time the chase. And, I think there is no one better than him (Dhoni) in the world as far as planning chases are concerned. But, yes, he needs a little more help now, with big hitters playing around him. Dhoni plays a very pivotal role in that middle order. He is the one, who kind of, is the composer in this whole symphony,” he opined.

The Test successes of wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant has given rise to calls for his inclusion in the ODI squad with India preparing for the World Cup in England.

Dasgupta supports Pant’s inclusion in the World Cup squad as a specialist batsman. For him, the wicketkeeper’s slot is sealed by Dhoni.

“Not as a keeper. For me, I have been saying this for the last one year, the keeper's slot for the World Cup is sealed. You don't need to look beyond MS Dhoni. That is a given.

“But, as a batsman, you can have a look at him (Rishabh). Again, I think he is the one for the future. You have to really invest in him. If he is there (for World Cup) I will not be surprised. And if he is not there, I won't be surprised either. Because, if you look at the middle order, you have people who are contributing. You have Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, and Hardik Pandya is back. So, there is a lot of fight for the middle order slots. What I am looking for is Rishabh to make the place his own as and when MS Dhoni retires,” Dasgupta said.