Former India coach Greg Chappell praised Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his iconic innings in the first Test against Australia and believes that Dhoni is the only person who can make a difference in the Test series.
"Only MS could have played such a knock," Chappell was quoted as saying by Times of India.
"He has played several memorable knocks in one-day cricket, but this was the best I have seen him play in Test matches,” Chappell added.
Chappell, who is in India to deliver a lecture on ‘Can India be the Brazil of cricket’ with wife Judith, said he was surprised when Dhoni was criticized and former players demanded his resignation from captaincy.
"It is true that the Indian team under Dhoni looked below-par during their tour Down Under, but he has answered his critics in the best possible way. In my book he remains the best man to lead India in all forms of the game."
Chappell was appointed the coach of India in 2005 and in his 22-month tenure he has groomed Dhoni.
"Just look at the sheer workload he handles. He not only leads India in all forms of the game, but also keeps wickets. And let us not forget the energy-sapping IPL," Chappell pointed.
"At a time when players all over the world are struggling to cope with their workload, it is amazing how Dhoni manages to play every game with the same intensity.
That he has done it successfully now for five years speaks volumes about Dhoni's fitness, mental strength as well as his commitment. India are lucky to have him," he added.
Speaking about Dhoni’s double century in Chennai, Chappell said, "I have seen him smack a yorker-length delivery from James Anderson for a six. It requires special talent. His success on a crumbling Chennai track stems from his ability to strike the ball hard on pitches where the ball tends to keep low. Had he scored just 124, the match would still have been in the balance.”
“The manner in which he attacked a tiring Australian attack, shielding the tailenders, truly makes him a match-winner," he further added.
Chappell also praised Test debutant Moises Henriques.
"It was good to see Henriques coming good at last. He has been on the fringe for a while. I hope he can be the all-rounder that Australia have been looking for, particularly after a question mark over Shane Watson's ability to contribute with the ball."
Chappell concluded by saying that Australia needs an additional spinner if they intedn to win the Test series.
"It was the sort of a track that looked uglier than it played. I guess a Xavier Doherty would have been more useful here," he opined.
"It will be a close series, but thanks to Dhoni, India do have a significant advantage,” he said.
First Published: February 27, 2013, 11:23 am