Michael Clarke's name had appeared on the scoreboard during India vs Australia 2nd ODI at Brisbane ©Getty Images (File Photo)
Michael Clarke’s name had appeared on the scoreboard during India vs Australia 2nd ODI at Brisbane ©Getty Images (File Photo)

It has been more than a year since India won an One-Day International (ODI) series under MS Dhoni’s captaincy. It was October 2014, when India won their ODI series against West Indies and at the same time triumphed series victory against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, which was under the captaincy of Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. No matter if India has lost the match under Dhoni’s captaincy, he’s had an excellent innings in ODIs playing 275 games with total runs of 8918 runs and 50-plus average. His captaincy and finishing capacity has taken him to a level which may take a while to reach out. LIVE CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Australia, 1st T20I at Adelaide

In the last one year, his strategic plans have dropped down as his finishing capacity diminished and hard-hitting shots have failed to lead India to victory. After all the speculations of him retiring from ODIs fumed up after the 5th ODI against Australia at Sydney, Dhoni put the rumors off claiming he will continue to play ODIs until further announcement.

Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke spoke in defense of Dhoni and mentioned the 34-year old has lot more cricket left in him, “I think MS Dhoni has done a wonderful job for India in all formats of the game,” says Clarke in an interview after his lap of honour at the Sydney Cricket Ground, as reported on Times of India. “I still think he has a lot to offer to the Indian team. I think his captaincy has been very good throughout his career and I think he’s played a big part in helping India having sustained success over a long period. Any time the team doesn’t win, the captain is always accountable, so I’m sure he feels disappointed about not being able to win this series. I still think Dhoni has a lot to offer as a captain and also as a player.” ALSO READ: Michael Clarke in Australian side for 2nd ODI vs India at Brisbane!

The former Australian skipper have played humongous amount of cricket and is one of the finest and entertaining cricketers Australia has ever had. He certainly has enough in common, too, with the Indian captain. They made their international debut less than two years apart. Both are World Cup winning captains, and when Clarke was asked if captains have shelf life, Clarke smiled and said, “I think Dhoni has a lot of cricket left in him, if that’s what you’re suggesting. He can continue to captain India if he wants to because he’s earned that right. And I think you know when the right time is to go.”

Clarke also mentioned, Dhoni is upset with his bowler Mohammad Shami being left out due to injury, “I think you’ve missed Shami for sure in this series. He’d have bowled really well. But the wickets have been so flat. So I don’t think we can be too hard on the bowlers. India has made 300 every time they’ve batted against Australian bowlers as well. I just think Australia has probably scored that 20 or 30 runs extra every time. 99% of the time, MS Dhoni walks out to bat with five overs or 10 overs, he’s unbelievable. You look at his record and somebody in the Indian team hasn’t been able to do that this series. I certainly don’t think we can be too hard on MS Dhoni and the Indian team.” ALSO READ: Michael Clarke calls on West Indies to prioritise international cricket

The flat wickets have been a cropping issue for a while now. Clarke contributed flat pitches for high-scores and world class batsmen on both ends. “I think we’ve seen flat wickets and both top orders have played really well. Both batting groups deserve a lot of credit. It’s been tough work for the bowlers. India have probably missed someone in that middle order to be able to go in the last five or 10 overs to strike it at a strike rate of 150 – M.S. Dhoni has done that for so long. It’s been high-scoring from both teams which certainly has entertainment value, but I’d have liked to see a little bit more spin, because I’d like to see Ashwin play. Him and Jadeja are a very good combination, I think,” he said.

Michael Hussey who signed off Big Bash League (BBL) on Sunday also came out in defense Dhoni. The pair has worked together closely for Chennai Super Kings in Indian Premier League (IPL) and he went on to say Dhoni has the ability to take pressure and encourage his team mates to play to their best in the match. “I think we try and look too much into it,” said Hussey about the Dhoni retirement claims. “He’s a very relaxed character. He goes with his gut feeling a lot, which I think is very important as a captain. He doesn’t panic under pressure; he keeps his cool. He takes his time.”

“You put so much pressure on yourself. The fans and the media put so much pressure on the players. He’s got this wonderful ability just to get the players to relax, try and take that pressure off them. Just go out there and play and enjoy playing the game of cricket: that’s what he impresses on the players all the time and I think that’s one of his greatest strengths, particularly in a place like India, where there is so much tension, stress, pressure, so much attention on all the players,” Hussey said. ALSO READ: Michael Hussey gets wonderful send-off from Sydney Thunder teammates

India will play hosts to Australia for Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) series beginning from Tuesday. If India surpass this series, it will put all rumors to rest regarding Dhoni’s retirement. Clarke said he felt the Indians are the favorites for ICC World T20. “You’ve got natural instincts that you’ve got to back, which is sometimes easier said than done. It’s a little bit of trial and error. You work out, ‘I probably made the wrong decision there,’ or ‘I probably should have bowled someone else,’ or ‘I probably should have sent him up the order a little bit earlier.’

“That’s why I say, the best teams in the world have a mixture of youth and experience. So the youth learns from the experience and the senior players get off from the adrenaline and excitement in the younger players. That’s what drives them at training to try and become better. India has that; obviously there are a few injuries but in my opinion they’re the team to beat at the T20 World Cup. They’re the favourites,” he signed off.