Legendary former wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani has backed MS Dhoni’s position in the Indian team, saying that the 38-year-old remains a “big role model for young Indian cricketers.” Dhoni’s floundering returns with the bat, coupled with the rise of Rishabh Pant, has led to many questioning the 2011 World Cup-winning former captain’s presence in the team.
“Leave him alone. There will be a time when he will retire, but we must stop talking about his retirement now,” Kirmani told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of six outlets of Hearting Solutions in Kolkata. “The way he has captained the Indian team, he’s the best captain ever. He has taken the Indian team to the highest level in Test cricket, in ODI, in T20s…”
“Dhoni should stay as he’s a big role model for the young Indian cricketers. He must stay. He already has stepped aside from Tests. It’s his decision. We should not interfere. Has anyone else earned such a fame like Dhoni?”
Kirmani said that questions such as the one swirling around Dhoni always comes around whenever a wicket-keeper reaches the twilight of his career.
“When Farokh Engineer was in the fag end of his career, everyone was saying who’s next and then Syed Kirmani came, then came Kiran More and Dhoni,” said Kirmani.
“Someone will definitely take his place. We have three-four talented wicketkeepers in the reckoning. Wicketkeeping is not an easy aspect of cricket. It’s the most difficult position on the field and it’s a very key aspect of the game. Not everyone can do wicket-keeping by just wearing a pair of gloves,” he stated.
Kirmani also expressed sympathy for the situation of Wriddhiman Saha. Saha was India’s first-choice Test wicket-keeper after Dhoni retired from the format in 2014. But a prolonged time on the sidelines due to injury allowed Pant to take a foothold on the position and he has since lost his place altogether.
“Saha, unfortunately, had some injury problems. He has to be given equal opportunity. What’s the point to be in the side, if you do not give chance,” Kirmani said.
“We have to judge on pure performance. Saha came to Indian side following his consistency at the domestic level. But when you’re out of the picture, somebody else takes over your place, so the likes of Karthik, Pant and came. Now we have to see who’s is more consistent on the field — be it in batting, wicketkeeping or all-round ability,” he added.