BCCI president Sourav Ganguly on Saturday (December 28) said that former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has “surely” communicated his future plans to skipper Virat Kohli and the selectors.
Dhoni, who has been on a sabbatical from international cricket since India’s semi-final exit in the ODI World Cup, lead a trail of questions towards his retirement and future in the team.
“He’s had communication with the captain, I am sure he has had communication with the selectors, and I don’t think this is the platform to discuss about it,” Ganguly said during the latest episode of ‘Inspiration’ on India Today.
He also opined that beating Australia on their home ground will be a bigger challenge for India next year as compared to the one in 2018-19 when Steve Smith and David Warner were not present in the opposition ranks.
“I think that’s going to be bigger challenge for them (2020 Test series) and I am sure (with) the standards Virat sets for himself and his team, he’ll know at the back of his mind that the 2018 Australian team was not the best Australian team of his generation,” he added.
India’s tour of Australia next year will be preceded by the T20 World Cup, to be held Down Under from October 18 to November 15 and will also feature Smith and Warner who were serving ball-tampering bans when the tourists won their first series on the Aussie land, ending a 71-year wait.
“And what he’s (Kohli) going to face next year in October, which is not far away, it’s going to be a different, full strength and strong Australia. They (India) have the team to beat them, they just have to believe and get everything right to beat them.
“So that’s what I am looking for, you know when I became captain that was one of my aims, to compete with the best and I remember 2003 in Australia against that Australia, we were outstanding and this team has the potential to do it,” he said.
Under Ganguly, India drew the four-Test series 1-1 but Australia were without their best bowlers Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.
Ganguly asserted that India have the resources to beat Australia in their own backyard.
“They have fast bowlers, they have spinners, they have a champion in Virat Kohli, as a batsman it’s a new Ajinkya Rahane, which we have seen in the last three, four months and now Rohit Sharma (as opener).
“I am looking forward to his performance, and if India get the order right and the openers, because opening is the most important thing in overseas cricket… so if they can get that right they will be able to beat this Australian team,” he added.
India have lost Test series in South Africa and England in 2018 but Ganguly expects them to win the team tours next time.
“I still expect them to win in England and South Africa in Test matches which they need to do to be a good side. They beat Australia in last year (2018) but I still expect them to win in South Africa and England and they are going back to Australia next year,” Ganguly said.
Ganguly, a decorated captain himself, was full of praise for the 38-year-old two-time World Cup-winning skipper and said it will be difficult to get a player of Dhoni’s caliber.
“It’s his (Dhoni) decision what he wants to do, but I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to him, but he’s a champion, he’s been an absolute champion in Indian cricket.”
On the seasoned wicketkeeper-batsman, who led India to title wins in the inaugural World T20 in South Africa in 2007 and the ODI World Cup at home in 2011, Ganguly further said, “You won’t get another M S Dhoni very, very soon, but what he does — whether he wants to play, whether he doesn’t want to play, is up to him.”
Dhoni has so far refused to talk regarding his future. At an event in Mumbai earlier, Dhoni had said questions regarding his return to cricket should only be asked after January 2020.
Moving on to the issue of India not winning an ICC tournament in recent years, Ganguly said he will engage with captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri to address it.
India last won an ICC tournament in 2013 when the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led team beat England in the final of the 50-over Champions Trophy.
“This is one thing which needs to be addressed and at some stage, I will speak to Virat and Ravi,” Ganguly said.
The former India captain, in charge of BCCI since October, added, “The players that you need to find a way to get past the hurdle in the game whether it’s a mental hurdle or whatever.
“It’s a very strong team but when you have to go past the semi-finals, like in this (2019) World Cup. They played so well, but lost to New Zealand in one day.”
The India captain will get another opportunity to break the jinx during the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
While optimistic about India’s prospects, Ganguly felt there is a need for improvement while batting first in the shortest format.
“I think they are capable, I have certain opinions and ideas looking from the outside. I’ll speak to him in private. T20 cricket needs freedom which has to be implanted in this Indian team.
“As a batting unit, they chase very well because they know what score to get, but they are in trouble when they bat first most number of times, so I think that he needs to solve it,” he added.
(With inputs from agencies)