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MS Dhoni is a fantastic captain: Pankaj Advani

MS Dhoni has come under criticism from all quarters after India's humiliating loss to England in the Test series © Getty Images
MS Dhoni has come under criticism from all quarters after India’s humiliating loss to England in the Test series © Getty Images

By Faisal Kamal

New Delhi: Aug 19, 2014

Under-fire Mahendra Singh Dhoni has got support from unexpected quarters with cue sports poster boy Pankaj Advani backing the Indian skipper, saying he is the only one who can lead the team.

Dhoni’s leadership qualities have come under severe criticism in the longer format of the game after India lost the five-Test series against England 3-1, going down to the hosts by an innings and 244 runs in the fifth and final match at the Oval on Sunday.

Advani, however, said that Dhoni is the best available option to captain the side. “I think Dhoni is a fantastic captain,” Advani told PTI in an interview. Read more on 10 things that went wrong for India

The Indian batting failed miserably in English conditions but Dhoni played the sheet anchor’s role often to take the team out of embarrassing situations. Being India’s second highest scorer after Murali Vijay (402), Dhoni (349) scored four gritty half-centuries, and Advani was all praise for his fellow sportsperson.

“I know people have questioned his captaincy in this series but I think he is the only one who can stand up and has the maturity to lead a side like ours,” said the world champion cueist.

Advani, who recently became the only sportsperson — cue sport or any other sport — to pocket 10 world titles after winning the World Team Billiards Championship in Glasgow, knows the ups and downs of a professional sport and thus, warned the Indian fans against disrespecting their idols.

“I feel as Indians we get too excited with one victory or loss, whether it is in cricket or any other sport. We should always look at the consistency of a sportsperson or a team. Be it our hockey team or our cricket team. Suddenly today the team has lost and is getting hammered, but tomorrow they will come back home and possibly win a series and everything will be forgotten,” said the Bangalore cueist.

Winning his first world title at the age of 18 back in 2003, Advani, now 29, has travelled the world to play billiards and snooker and has a huge fan following in both India and abroad. The master cueist defended the Indian cricket team after their poor showing in Tests in England.

“Obviously we just tend to get excited with one odd victory here and there and we make it historic and what not. We need to be a little calm and let the performance of the players do the talking than just us making conclusions sitting at homes. The cricketers know what best to do,” opined Advani.

Advani, who has little time for any other sport than billiards or snooker, does watch football and tennis in his spare time and also keeps himself updated about what’s happening on the cricket field. Like many, Advani is also aware of the ‘tigers at home and lamb’s abroad’ tag of the Indian cricket team and the cue ist wants the well-wishers to get to the root of the problem rather than criticising the team time and again.

“But what people don’t look at is how do you bounce back when you have failed miserably. And it has not happened for the first time, it has happened way too often for our cricket team. So once a solution is in place then it’s ok, but unless a solution is found there will always be ups and downs. Today we’ll lose outside and come back home and again we’ll win a series at home. That does not solve the problem of playing outside the country,” concluded Advani.

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