New Delhi:Australia may continue to enjoy their numero uno status in world cricket for some more time but bowling great Richard Hadlee believes the Indian team under Mahendra Singh Dhoni would eventually topple them and rule all three formats of the game.
Here as the brand ambassador of Sunday's Airtel Half Marathon, Hadlee is highly impressed by what he saw of Dhoni and believes under him, India would emerge as the number one team in Test, One-day International and Twenty20 as well.
"It may not happen right now, but I think in a few years, India may go on to become the number one team and dominate all three formats of the game," Hadlee said.
The legendary Kiwi pacer was effusive in his praise for Dhoni and said, "I really like him. I've seen him in One-dayers and he's very proactive, and not just a merely reactive captain.
"He is quite refreshing and very talented as well. It's very important for a captain to remain calm and have a good understanding of the game. Dhoni is like that."
Another Indian who drew rich praise from the Kiwi great was Sachin Tendulkar even though Hadlee insisted Don Bradman would always remain the best cricketer, and not merely the best batsman, ever.
"I still remember playing against Sachin when he toured New Zealand in 1990. He was just 16-17 then and scored good 80 runs. Of course we could not foresee him making 12,000 Test runs but all could see the touch of class around him. He has been absolutely a magic for world cricket.
"Sachin, (Brian) Lara or (Ricky) Ponting are fantastic players in their own rights but history of the game suggests Don Bradman is the greatest player, and not merely just a batsman, ever," Hadlee said.
"Among his peers, Sachin is statistically superior to all and technically also, he's the better. I think he comes close (to Bradman)," he added.
Dragged into the debate on when players like Tendulkar need to call it quits so that they leave the team with their dignity intact, Hadlee said age should not be the criterion.
"I myself retired at 39. I mean the player knows himself better and should decide when to move on. When you are in your mid-30s and form is not so good, you may get pushed by the selectors...
"But Sachin is batting well and scoring too. He has been a role model for the young generation of players and I hope he would be able to decide when is the time to go," said the Kiwi legend.
Hadlee was pained by the empty galleries in Test matches and said ODI and Twenty20 might be the money-spinner but authorities need to strike a balance and protect the longer version of the game as well.
"It's difficult to understand why people cannot buy one day's ticket in Nagpur," Hadlee said, referring to the ongoing India-Australia Test there.
"I hope someone explains that to me. I mean Test cricket is the ultimate challenge, there is lot of subtle variations over five days.
"We all are realistic that One-day cricket and Twenty20 keep the game going but I hate to think that it would compromise Test cricket. We need to find a balance soon," said a concerned Hadlee.
Talking about cricket in New Zealand, Hadlee said the rebel Indian Cricket League, which lured away most of the key players, had hit the Kiwis hurt and newcomers would have to live upto the expectations if they are to regain their old glory.
"I mean Bangladesh too lost many players but I think New Zealand was hit the hardest. Quality players like Shane Bond gave up international cricket. You cannot blame them but their absence has left a big hole and so we are struggling in Test cricket.
"But at the same time, it throws up opportunity for the youngsters and New Zealand can become a force again in another couple of years," he said.