Syed Kirmani has lashed out at former players like Ajit Agarkar and VVS Laxman, who questioned MS Dhoni’s spot in the team after his below-par performance in the 2nd India-New Zealand T20I. He also blamed the media for going after players and forcing them to retire after a certain age.
During the three-match T20I series between India and New Zealand, which the hosts won by 2-1, critics have raised questions over Dhoni’s performance. In this phase, among many other cricketers and pundits, the wicketkeeper-batsman has found another supporter in the form of Syed Kirmani, who admires the former skipper's contribution to the Indian cricket.
"I don't know why this is happening. As the commander of the Indian team, Dhoni brought laurels to the country in all three formats of the game. He has been a great servant of Indian cricket and also an inspiration to youngsters. You need an experienced
Dhoni has played 83 T20Is for India in which he scored 1281 runs and behind the wickets took 45 catches and done 25 stumpings. Kirmani believed that Dhoni’s experience will be fruitful for the Indian team in upcoming time. He also reminded what Dhoni did for the team in Test format by taking retirement.
"It is only the experience which comes in handy in the time of crisis. Bad form always comes. One or two failures don't mean Dhoni is over the hill. Do not push Dhoni out. Do not write against him. Stop talking about Dhoni, let him take his own decision. He knows when to retire.
"Rightly, he gave up his Test spot to promote Virat Kohli. Now too he will take the right decision. You have to leave the decision (to retire) to Dhoni and not force him out with people of least experience writing against him," the legendary wicket-keeper said.
Kirmani was also critical of the media, who never leaves an opportunity to bring out Dhoni's weaknesses and has pressurized him at every step. Kirmani said, "As a cricketer, the learning process is from years 20 to 30. After the age of 30, you start blossoming. Unfortunately in India, once a player reaches 28 or 29, the media starts getting after them, I don't know through whose influence. I don't want to comment on it."
Citing previous such instances, Kirmani added, "The media, unfortunately, got after Ganguly when he had another three to four years (of international cricket). Similarly, it was the case with Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, and VVS Laxman. They (media) forced them to retire. They started writing against these great players who have done yeoman service."
In the second T20I of the series, the visitors handed a humiliating 40 run defeat to India. India had lost their four wickets for 67 runs when Dhoni came out to the crease. But he took more time to settle and although he hit three sixes in his innings, it was too little too late for the team as the run rate had skyrocketed above 15 by then.
After the match, Agarkar and Laxman had questioned Dhoni’s place in the team. But Kirmani has some strong words for Agarkar. "The players who were in the Indian team and retired now don't want experienced players like Dhoni on the side. I don't know for what reason. A guy like Agarkar is telling Dhoni to quit. Who is Agarkar in front of Dhoni to say such a thing? And such guys are allowed to say all these things and media prints them without knowing what Dhoni is all about," he said angrily.
Earlier, Indian skipper Virat Kohli registered his support in the favour of Dhoni and stated that the latter will be the one to decide his retirement date and nobody else. Kirmani welcomed Kohli's move to back Dhoni. "Very clearly Virat Kohli has come out with statements saying he needs Dhoni in the team and his advice. He is very right in saying this," he said.