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Kirsten wants Dhoni to continue as limited overs captain

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Mumbai, Nov 1 (IANS) India's World Cup winning coach Gary Kirsten threw his weight behind current limited overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, saying removing the stumper from the helm could invite trouble for the team in the shorter formats of the game.

"You are not going to get an answer out of me. You replace M.S. Dhoni at your peril, because the one experience I have had is that all great leaders have great performances till the end of their careers," Kirsten said at a promotional event here on Tuesday.

Kirsten said that if one is willing to let Dhoni go, one never knows if India misses out on some potential match-winning performances in 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup in England.

"So, if you (are) willing to let M.S. Dhoni go when there might potentially be a great World Cup performance left in him if he goes to the (2019) World Cup, which I am not sure if he is (taking part in) or not, you take the risk of doing that," the former South Africa opener said.

Terming Dhoni as a "great player", Kirsten poured cold water on his critics, saying those doubting his ability are making a mistake.

"I think that is the question I get asked the most everytime I come to India. My answer hasn't changed in three years. That he (Dhoni) is definitely the best leader I have ever worked with. And his record for Indian cricket over the last nine-ten years speaks for itself," said the South African when asked about the debate surrounding Dhoni's future.

"There is no debating in my opinion that he is up there with India's greatest captains and certainly has produced the trophies for India in his time," added Kirsten who was India's coach when Dhoni and company lifted the World Cup in 2011.

According to Kirsten, Dhoni's record in limited overs cricket spoke for itself.

"You just have to look at his ODI batting record as well, As a finisher, it's unsurpassed in the world in terms of the position he bats in. So, if anyone is doubting his ability, I think they would be making a great mistake.

"He is a great player and all great players would continue to produce fantastic performances through their career. It's exciting to see him doing well and having success with the Indian team. I enjoyed working with him and it was a great experience for me," he added.

Kirsten feels it should be left to the Ranchi star to decide on his future.

"There comes a time in every player when he is got to consider for himself whether he should be in the team or it's time to move. We will leave the decision up to him," he said.

To a query whether Dhoni should consistently bat higher up the order as he did in the recently concluded ODI series against New Zealand when he batted at No.4, Kirsten said he was capable of batting in a lot many positions.

"That discussion is going on for eight years. He does (have) an ODI batting average of over 50. He can bat in lot of different positions.

"When I was with the Indian team, I encouraged rotational batting order, where we batted according to the situation rather than this is your batting position today. M S was brilliant at that, he didn't mind where he batted."

"I always liked him to come in when we needed 100 runs to win because there was no one better (than him) in the world (who) could have won a game from that position, speaking from my experience. But he often liked to get up little bit earlier, so that he can have more time at the wicket and help himself to a hundred. M.S. Dhoni could pretty much bat anywhere in the batting order," Kirsten explained further.

Kirsten also hailed the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) decision to use the Decision Review System (DRS) in the upcoming Test series against England after having consistently opposing it in the past.

"If they (BCCI) are going to try it, its brilliant. It is a great technology, and it's got better and better. It will be great for every Test playing country to use the technology".

--IANS

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