New Delhi: Defending Mahendra Singh Dhoni's post his recent dip in form in T20Is, former Indian pacer Ashish Nehra, who recently retired from international cricket, on Wednesday said that he sees the wicketkeeper-batsman playing till the Twenty20 World Cup in 2020.
Recently, former cricketers Ajit Agarkar and VVS Laxman had said that India should look beyond Dhoni for the T20I formats and that the wicketkeeper-batsman should pave the way for youngsters.
Meanwhile, Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli threw his weight behind Dhoni, saying the criticism against him is unfair.
"First, I don't understand why are people only pointing him out, I'm not able to understand this. If I fail as a batsman three times, no one is going to point fingers at me because I am not over 35. The guy is fit, he is passing all the fitness tests. He is contributing to the team in every tactical way on the field. With the bat, if you look at the series against Australia and Sri Lanka, he did really well. In this series, he has not got much time to bat,” Kohli said during the post-match press conference after the third India versus New Zealand Thiruvananthapuram Twenty20.
Former India captain, Sunil Gavaskar too has backed Dhoni as he countered VVS Laxman and Ajit Agarkar's views on MS Dhoni's T20I future.
MS Dhoni has come under scrutiny following his low strike rate and a 37-ball 49 in the second T20I in Rajkot against New Zealand where India fell short of 40 runs while chasing down 197 on a flat track.
However, Nehra come out in support of Dhoni and said that the former Indian skipper should be allowed to play as long as he wants and as long as his body allows.
The 39-year-old further insisted that if he would have been a coach or captain, he would have made Dhoni played for another two to three years.
"In every house, you need an elder one and he is there. I hope till next two to three years or as long as his body allows he plays. Cricket is a game of conditions definitely and it is not easy to perform. If it was in mind or if I am coach or captain I will be on his head that he has to play. I am not saying he doesn't perform he has to play. He is the first guy who will raise his hand and say I am retiring if he is not performing. But I personally feel we should leave at MS Dhoni and let him play cricket," Nehra told ANI.
"He is one guy who is very honest with himself and the country. So, he should definitely play. I see him even to play T20 World Cup in 2020. If I can be a fast bowler at the age of 39. So, with MS Dhoni and his fitness, he can definitely play," he added.
In Rajkot T20I, Dhoni entered the ground at the start of ninth over when India was batting at 67/4. He started slowly and ended up with 49 of 37 balls.
Dhoni usually bats at number five or six, which gives him less time to adjust on the ground.
Nehra further ruled out comparison between Dhoni and current skipper Virat Kohli. He said that Dhoni and Kohli are two different personalities and, therefore, there should be no comparison between the two
Nehra, who made his international debut way back in 1999 against Sri Lanka in Colombo, retired from the game with a tally of 235 wickets from 164 matches across all the formats in international cricket.
He was also a part of the young Indian brigade that played the 2003 World Cup.