New Delhi: Virender Sehwag, who has recently called time on his international cricket career, has backed under-fire skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to stay on as India’s limited overs captain till the next World Cup.
Replying to queries about Dhoni, Sehwag said: “He should continue as captain till the next World Cup. If he does so, he can leave behind a good World Cup team. And if he retires… you can imagine, even now when Dhoni is there, people have to think about who should bat at 5th, 6th and 7th position.
“If Dhoni is not there, the 5th, 6th and 7th slots will become absolutely free and you cannot expect somebody to finish the match properly.”
The explosive opener dismissed reports that it was Dhoni who was behind the decision to drop him from the Indian team.
Asked if he believed Dhoni had a hand in dropping him from the team, the former India batsman told ‘India TV’ show ‘Aap ki Adalat’: “I don’t think Dhoni would have done this. He is a nice man at heart. We senior players respect him, and when he first took over as captain, all senior players played under him, gave him guidance and nice suggestions, which he implemented during his captaincy and our team won in T20, ODIs and Test matches.”
On whether he had tiffs with Dhoni, Sehwag said: “I don’t think any such thing happened. It was all media speculations that Sehwag and Dhoni are at loggerheads. We stay in a hotel together and play matches, I don’t think such things occurred. Had it been so, I would have been dropped much earlier. I don’t think (Sourav Ganguly’s) statement (that Dhoni was behind Sehwag’s ouster from Team India) was correct.”
When it was pointed out that Ganguly had remarked that a captain always had a say in the selection of players, Sehwag said: “Normally the criterion is, any player can be dropped after non-performance in four Tests whether he is the captain or a senior or a junior player.
“The selectors decide the criteria. I think the picking or dropping of players by a captain used to take place when Ganguly was the skipper, but the scenario changed thereafter, when Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble took over. Probably they changed the trend and it was decided that only those who perform, shall play.”
When pointed out that former India coach Greg Chappell had written in his column that the tiff between Sehwag and Dhoni began because the former wanted to become captain, Sehwag replied: “You can ask Dhoni about this. We played the World Cup together in 2007. To say that I wanted to become the captain is entirely incorrect. When Dhoni became captain and I played under him, we won the T20 World Cup.”
“When selections were made for Tests, I clearly told the chief selector, you can check it out with K Srikkanth, that Sehwag said, he had no interest in becoming captain, nor was he interested in becoming vice-captain. I told him you can pick up anybody as vice-captain. You can check it out with Dhoni. I had no interest in becoming the captain.”
When reminded that it was he who told a press conference on July 6, 2012 that we won the World Cup not because of Dhoni’s captaincy, but because the team performed well, Sehwag said: “Ask anybody sitting here in the audience whether my statement was correct or not. My statement was not wrong, my statement was incorrectly portrayed or projected.
“I was not making a jibe at Dhoni. What I said was: do not give the entire credit to the captain, give credit to the team too.”
He added: “No doubt, if you go through records, Dhoni is India’s best captain to date. Beating Sourav Ganguly, he won the Tests, ODIs and T20s, won both the World Cups. Nobody can deny that, but to give credit to a single person is not good, others should also get credit for winning the Cups.
“I made 175 runs in the first match, and Dhoni made 92 runs in the last match. In between, I performed well in one or two matches, and Dhoni couldn’t perform well in any. Gautam Gambhir made runs and Yuvraj Singh won Man of the Series. And if tomorrow somebody says, we won the World Cup because of Yuvraj, will anybody agree?”
Asked if a captain should at least get some credit, Sehwag quipped: “Then he should get the credit for losing too.
“If Team India loses today, questions are raised against Virat Kohli or somebody else, or will you also blame the captain? To say that the captain makes the team lose or win, is not correct. I don’t think it’s correct to blame the captain. He at least tries to keep all together so that the team plays well, plays positive cricket and wins the match for the country, and not think about only winning and earning a name for himself.”
On India’s recent losses to Bangladesh and South Africa, Sehwag remarked: “We lost because of the team, and not because of the captain or Dhoni, because neither our batting nor bowling was up to the mark. For how long will Dhoni alone win the match for us?”