Former India opener Virender Sehwag reveals his first-choice wicketkeeper for the next year’s showpiece event – the Cricket World Cup 2019. Despite Rishabh Pant’s heroics in the recently-concluded Oval Test against England, Sehwag has thrown his weight behind veteran stalwart Mahendra Singh Dhoni to don the gloves till the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England.

Sehwag believes Dhoni’s invaluable experience and finishing abilities will play a deciding role in India’s success at the quadrennial tournament.

“In my personal opinion, MS Dhoni should continue till the 2019 World Cup. Even if you play Pant in ODIs from now, he won’t be able to play more than 15-16 ODIs till the World Cup which is far less compared to Dhoni, who has played over 300 ODIs. I would want Dhoni to continue till the World Cup,” Sehwag was quoted saying by India TV.

After a disastrous tour to England where Team India lost the five-Test rubber 1-4, the men in blue will look to make amends in the upcoming Asia Cup, which starts from September 15 in UAE.

In the absence of regular-skipper Virat Kohli, it will be expected from Dhoni to shoulder the leadership responsibilities and help the stand-in captain Rohit Sharma, who is also making a comeback after missing out on a place in India’s Test squad. Both Dhoni and Rohit last played in an ODI against England in Leeds on July 17.

The former Indian captain has had a decent outing in ODIs this year but would surely like to improve on his performances in the upcoming Asia Cup.

Heaping praise on Pant’s natural talent to hit maximums, Sehwag feels Pant has the right attitude and ability to take over the keeping duties from Dhoni once the latter retires from limited-overs cricket. Pant was included in India’s squad for the final three Test matches against England. The Delhi batsman made a mark for himself with a knock of 114 runs in the second innings of the fifth Test.

“Pant is someone who can hit sixes at his will, but when you talk about Dhoni, he has won matches single-handedly for the country. So Pant has the right kind of the temperament to be a perfect heir for him. I want Dhoni to hand the baton to Pant when he hangs his boots,” the Nawab of Najafgarh added.

India will take open their Asia Cup campaign against Hong Kong on September 18 in Dubai. The men in blue will take on arch-rivals Pakistan on September 19 in a highly-anticipated contest.