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My salaam to a dada captain: Ravi Shastri

By Rashmi Nanda -

The former Indian skipper Ravi Shastri has a special tribute for to Mahendra Singh Dhoni and that was “My salaam to a dada captain.” as he decides to step down as the captain of the national limited-overs team, which was confirmed by the BCCI on Wednesday.

On Thursday (January 5), Shastri told Wisden India, “There was absolutely no chance of negotiation, not a chance. He didn’t come to discuss the matter; he just came out and told us of his decision. That came as a huge surprise, of course. But this decision to quit from the captaincy of the one-day and Twenty20 sides, this doesn’t surprise me one bit.”

He added, “The reason I say I am not surprised at this decision is that he is not someone who will chase the seat. 'Kursi ke peeche bhaagega nahi'. He is the kind of guy who will play on his own terms, and this is what his terms are.”

He said that it is very sensible and the shrewd decision of Dhoni to quit captaincy. Shastri stated, “He has obviously given it a lot of thought, though I must admit it must have been a tough decision to make. He has been the captain for so long; it wouldn’t have been easy to make the call that enough was enough. But then again, MS knows that the man in waiting is ready like he must have felt in Australia when he did not just quit the Test captaincy but Test cricket itself. This is a very sensible and wise decision.”

Shastri said that there has been no one to compare with Dhoni in the captaincy. He added, “Just in terms of the timing. This has given Virat (Kohli) time till the Champions Trophy to prepare for the title defense. MS has won everything there is to win; he really has nothing to prove. Again, the reason I say he has nothing to prove is that he is easily India’s most successful captain, by a distance. There is no one even close to him in that regard. The names that follow in that list a fair distance behind are Kapil Dev, who led India to the World Cup title in 1983 and because of whom we won the Test series in England in 1986. And Ajit (Wadekar) in an era before there was one-day cricket when we won successive Test series in the West Indies and then England in 1971. And of course, Tiger (Pataudi) for flamboyance. Baaki koi Nahi [there is no one else].”

Shastri hailed Dhoni’s decision to continue to be available for the limited-overs cricket. Former Indian coach said, “The way I look at it is that the best thing to have come out of yesterday is that he is still available to play for the country in ODI and T20 cricket. For starters, there is no wicket keeping alternative to him. No one is anywhere near him, forget about someone competing for his slot. And giving up the captaincy will allow him to express himself in a bigger way and enjoy his cricket and his batting even more.”

He also added, “And, given all that he has done for all these years, he deserves to enjoy himself. The responsibility of finishing or whatever can be given to someone else. Virat can use him anywhere in the order, which is brilliant. He can even use him at the top of the order, and when I say the top of the order, he could even use him as an opener in 20-over cricket. I think that will be brilliant.”

Since September 2007, Dhoni had been the limited-overs captain and has just recently quit his 10th-year captaincy as an international skipper, which surprised many peoples but Shastri feels that Dhoni made an absolute decision to give up captaincy.

“He would have already made that shift. He must have thought about it long and hard. In any case, there is not too much international limited-overs cricket lined up for India. These six games against England (three ODIs and three T20Is in January-February), then a break and then the Champions Trophy in England in June. And then God alone knows when next after that. Given all that, I just think he has made the absolutely right decision. Nailed it.”

The former Indian skipper has confident that Kohli is ready to take the additional responsibility of captaining the Indian cricket team in all formats of the game. Shastri stated, “Absolutely though the one-day and T20 games will be a learning curve because you need much quicker decision-making skills than in Tests. But he is ready, of course.”