Mahendra Singh Dhoni said that the idea behind stepping down as India’s limited-overs captain was to give his successor time to build the team for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
When Dhoni announced his decision to give up India’s Test captaincy, it was rather sudden – during a series in Australia in late 2014. Not just the leadership role, he quit the format altogether, ending his career after 90 Tests.
The man who had led India to glory in all the major International Cricket Council tournaments – ICC World T20 2007, ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and ICC Champions Trophy 2013 – continued to play the shorter formats, though, and is still a big part of the squad. But since October 2016, it hasn’t been as the captain – Virat Kohli has taken charge in all formats.
Still only 37 and very much in the mix for the next 50-over World Cup, to be played in England and Wales next summer, Dhoni feels the decision to step down from captaincy when he did was the right call.
“I resigned from captaincy because I wanted the new captain to get enough time for preparing a team before the 2019 World Cup. Selecting a strong team without giving the new captain appropriate time isn’t possible. I believe that I left the captaincy at the right time,” Dhoni said at an event in Ranchi, his home town, before leaving for Dubai to take part in the Asia Cup.
India recently lost a Test series 4-1 in England, winning just the third Test despite being in strong positions to pull off victory in all but the second Test at Lord’s, which was a one-sided affair.
The team played just one three-day tour game before the start of the Test series, and Dhoni pointed to that – the lack of warm-up games – as a big reason for the failure of the Indians, especially the batting unit.
“The Indian team missed out on playing practice matches before the series, which is why the batsmen are finding it difficult to adjust,” he said, adding that an away series loss shouldn’t take away from the team’s achievements. “This is a part of the game. We shouldn’t forget that India is currently No. 1 in the rankings.”
India’s first match at the Asia Cup is on 18 September in Dubai against Hong Kong, followed by the highly-anticipated game against Pakistan the following day at the same venue.
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