Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting has warned against writing off Mahendra Singh Dhoni as a dominant force in international cricket, predicting he will play a significant role in India’s title defence in the ICC Champions Trophy starting on June 1.
Dhoni, 35, India’s twin World Cup-winning skipper, has faced questions about his India future in the wake of subdued batting performances for Rising Pune Supergiant in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).
After aggregating just 61 runs in the first five matches for Pune Supergiant in the IPL, he bounced back by smashing an unbeaten 34-ball 61, lift his side to a last-ball win over holders Sunrisers Hyderabad. However, he scored just scored just 30 runs in the next two matches.
However, Ricky Ponting, who was Mumbai Indians coach as well, cautioned against writing off Dhoni, regarded as India’s finest finisher in limited-overs cricket.
“It’s a downside of having the great success that he’s had over a long period of time. I’ve been there myself and when you start to slide just a little bit, criticism is going to come your way.
“And to be fair, he probably hasn’t had much negativity come his way over the past 15 or 20 years. So, it’ll be really interesting to see how he handles that over the coming weeks,” cricket.com.au quoted Ponting as saying.
“Things can turn around in this game pretty quickly and one thing I’ve learned in this game with champion players is to never write them off. They always find a way to keep coming back. He’ll find a way and he’ll win games for his team.”
India are yet to announced the squad due to a stand-off with the International Cricket Council over revenue-sharing. Ponting though believes Dhoni’s game could be perfectly suited to the early-season conditions in the United Kingdom.
“He can be an important player in that Indian team, especially with his experience. Batting in the middle order, he’s someone who can really control a one-day innings, and that might be what you need in England.” Ponting said.
The former Australian skipper also expressed his surprise over Rising Pune Supergiant’s decision to replace Dhoni with Aussie compatriot Steve Smith as the IPL team’s skipper.
“If you think about Dhoni and his age, this might well be his last IPL. There’s no basis to me saying that. It just seemed like a strange time to move him on as captain if he wasn’t coming towards the end. Obviously, they’ve made a decision that they think is right for that team and Steve Smith taking over was what the hierarchy and the coaching staff thought was the right thing to do,” he said.
Ponting said it was up to Dhoni to take a call on his retirement.
“I’m pretty sure he’s got quite a thick skin. He’s grown up with unbelievable pressure on him as captain of India for a long time. He’s had some great moments in his career and right now he’s probably not playing at his absolute best, but it’s still there. I’m not ever going to tell anyone when it’s time to go or retire. That’s up to the champions to make their own mind up.”