Pune: Legendary India all-rounder Kapil Dev came out in support of former Team India skipper MS Dhoni who is under pressure from critics after his performances in the second India versus New Zealand T20 in Rajkot.
India, who required 197 runs to win the match, fell short by 40 runs as the Kiwis levelled the series. While skipper Virat Kohli was the standout performer with the bat, Dhoni’s failure to go hammer and tongs from the first ball invited severe criticism from former India cricketers; namely VVS Laxman, Ajit Agarkar and Aakash Chopra.
"In T20s, MS Dhoni's role is at No 4. He requires more time to get his eye in and then do the job. But today (Saturday) was a classical example because when Virat Kohli was batting, Dhoni had to give strike to Kohli. Kohli's strike rate was 160; MS Dhoni's strike rate was 80. That's not good enough when India were chasing a mammoth total," said Laxman during a post-match show after the Rajkot T20.
"I still feel it's time for MS Dhoni to give youngsters a chance in T20 format. It will be an opportunity for a youngster to blossom and get confidence playing international cricket. He is definitely an integral part of ODI cricket," added Laxman.
Former Team India pacer Ajit Agarkar also criticized Dhoni for his performance. "I think India must now look at other options, at least in T20Is. In one-day cricket, they seem to be happy with the role that he is playing. When you were the captain of the side, it was different. But just as a batsman, will India miss him, I don't think so. In T20 cricket, it is a lot easier to make that transition as there is a lot of experience in that team apart from MS Dhoni now," Agarkar was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
Kapil, India’s 1983 World Cup-winning captain, meanwhile threw his weight behind embattled Dhoni and said that he expected Dhoni to play a vital role for the Indian team during the ICC World Twenty20 in 2020.
"I do not understand why so many people are on his back after a couple of average performances. Age definitely doesn't have anything to do with it. Sachin (Tendulkar) was 38 when we won the World Cup and nobody was saying anything then," Kapil told The Times of India.
"Even if he is axed from the team, whom will they get," added Kapil. Despite backlash, Kohli and Team India head coach Ravi Shastri has backed MS Dhoni
“I think he is doing absolutely fine. He is working hard on his game. He understands his role, but it doesn't come off every time. He hit a six in Delhi and it was shown five times in the post-match show. Everyone got really happy. And suddenly he doesn't score in one game and we are after his life. I think people need to be a bit more patient. He's a guy who understands various cricketers. He's a very smart guy. He understands where he stands with his body, with his game. So I don't think anyone else has the right to decide that for him," Kohli had said.
"Looks like there are a lot of jealous people around, who just want Dhoni to have a couple of bad days.... There are a few people who are waiting to see the end of MS Dhoni. But great players like him decide their own future,” Shastri had said as he hit out at MS Dhoni critics.
"It (the criticism) doesn't make a difference to me. In our mind, we know where Dhoni stands within the team. He is an ultimate team man. He was a great leader and now an ultimate team man.,” he added....