MS Dhoni to take call on ODI retirement after 2017 Champions Trophy - Report

Sources close to Dhoni revealed the cricketer was already thinking about building a team for the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Dhoni became the second Indian captain to win the ICC Cricket World Cup Reuters

MS Dhoni is focussed on leading the Indian cricket team until the 2017 Champions Trophy after which he is likely to take a call on his One Day International career.

The 35-year-old was thinking about assessing his form and fitness at the end of 2016 but now is eyeing the eight-team tournament in England next year, according to the sources close to the cricketer, as reported by the Times of India.

Dhoni suffered a two-year barren run without an ODI series win between 2014 and 2016, which included series defeats in Australia and Bangladesh.

While the Indian Test team under Virat Kohli performed well on home and away tours and even clinched the number one spot in the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings, there were concerns over the showing of the ODI unit, which looked spineless under the wicketkeeper-batsman.

However, the skipper got back to winning ways by leading a second-string team to victory in Zimbabwe in June. On Saturday, Dhoni's men clinched a 3-2 series win against New Zealand after completing a mammoth 190-run win against the visitors in the final ODI at Visakhapatnam on the eve of Diwali.

The skipper himself, whose finishing abilities are on the wane, got back to form with a match-winning half-century in Mohali. The series win against Kane Williamson's men should give Dhoni some respite from critics who have been calling for his replacement in the limited-overs squad.

Former Team India director Ravi Shastri, who had opined that Kohli should take over Dhoni as captain in ODIs, has now backed the World Cup-winning captain saying he has it in him to continue till the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

"Dhoni is on par with greats like Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar. He is a big player and has it in him to play till the 2019 World Cup," Shastri was quoted as saying by the TOI.

"He is the kind of player who won't be around if he is not able to deliver for India. He has played cricket on his own terms and will continue to do so."

Notably, Dhoni called it quits from Test cricket as early as in 2014, in the middle of a Test series Down Under. One of the main reasons for his early retirement from the longer format of the game was that the right-hander wanted to prolong his career.

However, at the 2019 World Cup, Dhoni would be 38 and it will be interesting to see whether he is able to maintain his fitness to compete at the highest level. The skipper though has worked on this aspect and is looking trimmer and quicker than ever.

Despite not having enough match practice in a season that is filled with Test assignments, Dhoni has been lightning quick with his glove work as well as with his ability to run between the wickets.

Impressed with Dhoni's performance, teammate Ashish Nehra said age will hardly make a difference when it comes to his skipper's performance. He added that Pakistan cricketers Misbah-ul-Haq (42) and Younis (38), who have been strong performers for their side, have remained fit and shown the way for fellow veterans.

"Dhoni would be 38 by the time the 2019 World Cup is staged, but these days age isn't a factor," Nehra said.

"Look at Pakistani players like Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq. They are still playing international cricket past the age of 40. And as far as Dhoni is concerned, he is fit enough to go on till 2019."