Differing from the views expressed by former India captain Sourav Ganguly, his predecessor Mohammed Azharuddin on Wednesday said Mahendra Singh Dhoni has achieved so much in his career as a cricketer and he should be allowed to take a call on his future.
“It’s Ganguly’s personal decision (opinion) and I respect it. At the same time it all depends on Dhoni, on what he thinks about his future. I respect Ganguly’s opinion, but I feel Dhoni should be given the chance to decide when to retire,” said Azhar on the sidelines of a function to announce the joining of racer Nayan Chatterjee with Meco Motor Sports.
“He (Dhoni) deserves that chance. He has been one of the finest captains ever. He has won all major tournaments, got India to the no.1 position in all formats of the game. I think we should not forget his performances,” said Azhar in support of the current ODI and T20 captain, who has retired from Test cricket.
“It’s very hard for me to say. It totally depends on Dhoni, how he feels mentally or how demanding the sport is going to become. We have to give that chance to Dhoni to take the decision on his retirement,” the former wristy batsman said.
Azhar, who played 99 Tests for India before getting banned by the Cricket Board for his alleged role in the match-fixing scam sixteen years ago, was replying to questions from scribes on Ganguly’s widely reported utterances on Dhoni on Tuesday.
“(MS) Dhoni has been captain for nine years, which is a long period. He has been fantastic in the way he has gone about his job as captain, but does he have the ability in next four years to see India into the World in 2019. Does he have it in him to go for another four years? He has already given up Test cricket and now plays only ODIs and T20s,” Ganguly said.
“So the selectors need to find an answer to whether they see Dhoni leading India in 2019. If the answer is no, then find a new captain. If the answer is yes, which I will find very very surprising, Dhoni continues,” he was quoted as saying by ‘India Today’.
Asked about Dhoni’s recent dip in form as a power-hitting batsman who is considered to be among the best-ever finishers in the limited overs game, Azhar said every player went through such a phase.
“Sometimes people go up and down and his form is not good at times. But he has led the side well and has been a pillar of strength to the players who have played under him. We should give him that chance (to take a call on his future),” Azhar emphasised.
According to Azhar, India do not have to look beyond Virat Kohli to lead the country in all forms of the game once Dhoni quits.
“There’s no double in the country that Virat is going to be the next captain in T20 and ODIs. He’s already captain in Tests.”
Asked about the heat being faced by the BCCI from the Supreme Court over the Justice Lodha panel recommendations for
sweeping reforms, Azhar was of the opinion a middle ground can be found.
“The Board feels that it’s not possible to implement Lodha report (in toto). It will be good for the game if both parties come to an agreement. But let me clarify, I don’t know the details,” he remarked.
Azhar also took a mild dig at India’s no.1 spinner R Ashwin for not delivering consistently with the ball when he was asked about Dhoni not giving the off spinner the full quota of overs to bowl in T20 games, including in the ongoing IPL.
“Sometimes Ashwin has to produce results also. With due respect to him, he’s a great bowler, he should get results at the same time,” he pointed out.
Azhar, however, ruled out any Indian – including India A and under 19 coach Rahul Dravid – from getting a chance to be the new coach of the senior team which has been lying vacant since the end of the tour to England by the Indian squad.
“Nowadays everyone looks to have foreign coaches. I don’t think anyone will come from India. I don’t think any Indian will be the coach,” he remarked forthrightly.