Dhoni understands when he should retire: Shikhar Dhawan
Dhoni has been playing for so long, I feel he understands when he should retire: Shikhar Dhawan. (AFP Image)

Weighing in on the debate surrounding MS Dhoni’s retirement, India opener Shikhar Dhawan said the decision to ride into the sunset rests with no one but the two-time World Cup winning captain. Dhoni has been missing from India’s squads since the World Cup and there’s been no update as to if and when he’ll return.

Dhawan, who made his India debut under Dhoni, feels the former India captain possesses good decision-making skills, and is confident of timing his retirement right.

“Dhoni has been playing for so long, I feel he understands when he should retire. This should be his decision. He has taken very important decisions so far for India in his career and I’m sure he will make the call when the time comes,” Dhawan said on TV show Aap Ki Adalat.

“That’s the quality of a big leader. He knows the potential of every player, and knows to what extent a player should be backed. He knows how to make a champion out of a player. India’s success during his captaincy justifies this. His (Dhoni’s) control is his biggest quality.”

Dhawan went on to explain how Dhoni helped Virat Kohli ease into ODI captaincy after stepping down as India’s limited-overs skipper in January 2017. Under Kohli, India made the final of the Champions Trophy the same year, beat South Africa 5-1 at home in 2018 and won an ODI series 2-1 in Australia early this year. Kohli led India to the semifinal of the World Cup, where they topped the league stage with 15 points.

“Dhoni bhai has been quite successful as the captain of the side. We are all very grateful to him and we respect him a lot, and the same goes for Virat,” he said. “When Virat was young, he guided him immensely. Even when he became the captain, Dhoni bhai was always there to help him. This is the quality of a leader. It’s good to see that Virat is showing his gratitude to him now.”

Dhawan backed the under-fire Rishabh Pant to have a long career for India. Pant, 21, has been accused by current and former players of playing reckless shots, his batting style coming under the pump following a string of low scores.

Since the World Cup, Pant has managed just 112 runs from seven limited-overs innings with his average reading 22.90 in ODIs and 20.31 in T20Is. He’s fared slightly better in Tests overall, but his recent scores of 7, 24 and 27 has put his place in jeopardy with Wriddhiman Saha giving him stiff competition for a place in the squad.

“Rishabh is very talented and I am sure he will have a long career for India. He is trying hard. There are situations when you don’t score, but then you learn from them. It happens with everyone and I’m sure he will learn from it,” Dhawan said. “He (Pant) is a good player and we need to back good players. Even I went through rough patches in my life, and I still do. It is part and parcel of this game.”