Dhoni has no place up in top-order: Gavaskar

Former captain Sunil Gavaskar on Friday joined the debate on Mahendra Singh Dhoni's batting position.

updated: October 31, 2009 15:08 IST
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New Delhi:

Former captain Sunil Gavaskar on Friday joined the debate on Mahendra Singh Dhoni's batting position, saying that current skipper has no place in the top order of the star-studded Indian line-up.

With the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh in the Indian ranks, Dhoni had said it was natural he should bat at number five and Gavaskar agreed with it.

"I think he (Dhoni) has no place in the top order. You have Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar at the top and Gautam Gambhir comes next. Yuvraj Singh is at his best at number four and so Dhoni comes after him," Gavaskar said here.

"The important thing about the debate was good players should face more overs and he (Dhoni) was batting as a floater for some time. And I think he will bat according to the situation," he said on the sidelines of the 'Hindustan Times Leadership Summit'.

Gavaskar also felt that former captain Rahul Dravid got the axe in the one-day series against Australia as he had got into the Sri Lanka and Champions Trophy squad as cover for Sehwag, who was injured then.

"Dravid was in the Champions Trophy squad as a cover for Sehwag as the selectors wanted a senior player as replacement.

Once Sehwag recovered the selectors dropped him. Moreover, Yuvraj, who was injured in South Africa before the Champions Trophy, also recovered and Dravid had no place in the team," he added.

Gavaskar also lauded Sachin Tendulkar, who would complete 20 years of international cricket next month, for his commitment to the game.

"It is a tremendous achievement to be able to play for 20 years consistently. Even after 20 years he is still child at heart. He has still got the enthusiasm of a child and is still hungry to perform after playing for so many years," he said.

New Zealand fast bowling great Sir Richard Hadlee felt the hallmark of a great player was how he performed abroad and how fast he comes out of a lean patch, and Tendulkar was excellent on both counts.

"Tendulkar has performed in every conditions. He has been done well abroad and scored runs against all countries.

Moreover, he has come out of lean patches faster than any average player. That is the hallmark of a player's greatness," he said.

Former captain Ravi Shastri said it was a tribute to Tendulkar's greatness that he would last 20 years and would maintain top form in all these years.

"It is a tribute to his greatness, to his fitness and skills that he would last 20 long years and still maintains top form. He will go down in history as one of the greatest players," said Shastri.

Gavaskar rated Tendulkar's hundred in Perth in 1991 in his first tour of Australia and the century to win the Test against England in Chennai last year as his best innings.

"In Perth he was facing the fearsome Australian pace attack for the first time in his career on a pacy and bouncy Perth pitch and he never had any difficulty while scoring his hundred though India lost the match. There he showed he would dominate world cricket," Gavaskar said.

"He won the Test in Chennai on a spinning track against England who have two good spinners in Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann. Chasing 300 to win was not easy but he made it happen. The Perth century and another Chennai masterpiece against Australia were Shastri's pick.

"He destroyed Mark Taylor's Australia by belting Shane Warne to submission. Warne was round the wicket and turning the ball by bowling on the rough but Tendulkar played amazing attacking cricket belting two sixes over mid-wicket," he said.

Earlier, during a discussion session on "Is cricket as we knew it, dead?", Gavaskar, Shastri and Hadlee called for a balance in the three formats of the game so that Test cricket is preserved as the pinnacle of the game.

All of them pinned hopes on the Future Tours Programme after 2012 that the number of Tests will be increased while the ODIs will be reduced.

"The current volume of cricket will continue till 2012. After that I think more Tests will be played. For example, India and Australia series may be made icon series like that of Ashes. That will five-match series," Gavaskar said.

Shastri said he was against an overkill of any one format and wants to fix minimum number of Test matches a country should play in a year while reducing number of ODIs.

All of them felt that the seven-match ODIs series should be done away with and replaced by five games.

Gavaskar and Shastri were not worried by the explosion of Twenty20 cricket and even predicted more of the shortest format in the years to come. They also felt Indian Premier League of Champions League Twenty20 would only energise cricket.

"When one-day cricket came into being people felt Test cricket will be overshadowed but it never happened. Test cricket remained the pinnacle and it will remain so. There is space for all the formats. The only thing for administrators is how to balance them and not to make overkill of one over the other," Shastri said.

"Of course, the lure of money may alter the priority of young players but a youngster should first think of playing for the country first before being lured by the big money," he added.

Gavaskar urged the administyrators to take the positives of Twenty20 cricket like the IPL.

"The one-dayers energise Test cricket. Just like that Twenty20 cricket has energised one-dayers. The par score for one-dayers are no longer 250 it is now 300. If you don't reach 290 or 300 it is not a safe score now. Moreover a whole lot of new shots are being innovated. That is the plus point of Twenty20."