Cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir credited Rohit Sharma and Mahendra Singh Dhoni for Virat Kohli’s success as captain in international cricket. Speaking at a university in Ahmedabad on Thursday, Gambhir further added that the efficiency of one’s captaincy skill is tested in franchise-cricket like the Indian Premier League (IPL).

“Still a long way to go for him. Kohli was very good in the last World Cup but he has a long way to go. He captains so well in international cricket because he has got Rohit Sharma, he had MS Dhoni for a long time. Captaincy credentials are noticed when you are leading a franchise, when you do not have other players supporting you,” te BJP MP was quoted as saying to the reporters during a media interaction.

Citing examples of Sharma and Dhoni, who have had immense success as captains with their respective IPL teams, Gambhir said, “I have been honest whenever I have spoken about this. See what Rohit Sharma has achieved for Mumbai Indians, see what Dhoni has achieved for Chennai Super Kings. If you compare that with RCB, the results are there for everyone to see.”

Extending the interaction, the former Indian cricketer vouched for Sharma as an opener in Test cricket. Expressing his displeasure over the team’s decision in the last few years to not give him enough chance in the red-ball game, Gambhir said, “It is time for Rohit Sharma to open the batting in Test cricket. If you pick him in the squad, he has to be a part of the playing XI. If he does not fit your playing XI, no point in picking him in the squad of 15 or 16. He is too good a player to be sitting on the bench.”

Speaking on the personal front, the 37-year-old revealed that he wanted to leave cricket after being left out of India’s World Cup squad in 2007. Though the Men in Blue, led-by Rahul Dravid, had horrible run in West Indies, a young Indian brigade under Dhoni had won the Twenty-20 World Cup later in the same year where Gambhir was the most successful batsman.

“In 2007 I thought I was the closest to play the World Cup, but when they did not include me in the squad, I had given up on cricket. Then I was chosen in Twenty-20 World Cup in 2007 and I got dismissed for a duck in the first match against Pakistan. But as fate has it, I finished as the leading run-scorer in the World Cup and we ended up winning the tournament so one should never give up,” Gambhir added.

The 2009 ICC Test Player of the Year winner, Gambhir was instrumental in India’s two World Cup-winning campaigns. Before powering India to a famous win against Pakistan in the final of T20 World Cup in 2007, the left-handed batsman played another match-winning knock in the final of ICC World Cup 2011 against Sri Lanka. He was the team’s highest-scorer on both occasions. The cricketer announced his retirement from all form of the game in 2018.