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‘Sachin still a classic player’

New Delhi: Gautam Gambhir has dismissed suggestions that Sachin Tendulkar should consider retirement just because Ricky Ponting has decided to quit international cricket.

On the contrary, Gambhir expressed confidence that The Master would come back strongly in the remaining two Tests of the ongoing series against England.

“Nobody can force anyone to retire... Every top cricketer knows when to retire,” Gambhir said on Thursday, on the sidelines of a promotional. “You can’t ask Sachin to retire just because Ponting did it… That’s absurd. They are different individuals from two different countries… Why compare?” questioned the opener.

Gambhir said it’s illogical to infer that Sachin isn’t the same batsman that he used to be. “He is still a classic cricketer and capable of scoring lots of runs for India. His presence in the dressing room itself is a big thing for the team… I am sure he will come out of it and will score lots of runs in this series. Everybody goes through ups and downs… It’s all about the sheer joy of playing the game and he loves playing, Gambhir said.

Saluting the icon, Gambhir added: “Sachin is the greatest cricketer India has produced… Not just on the field, as a mentor he contributes off the field as well.”

Moving away from Sachin, Gambhir termed Ponting, who will be retiring after the Perth Test against South Africa, as one of Australia’s best captains. “What should I say about Ponting… He is a legend of the game. He played cricket in his own terms and is retiring on his own terms. Look at his records and you will know what a great player he has been,” he said.

Coming back to the job at hand, the series against England, Gambhir felt that it was wrong to criticise India captain Mahehdra Singh Dhoni just because he asked for turning tracks. “A captain should get the kind of wicket he wants,” Gambhir argued.

“There is nothing wrong in it... We all should support him instead of making it an issue. If he thinks he can win a Test match on a particular kind of wicket, we should support him. After all, he is the captain and he will only think about an Indian victory,” Gambhir said.

“Several former captains had asked for turners in the past... I think during (Mohammed) Azharuddin’s time, we used to play on turning wickets… But nobody had raised a question then.”

On the subject of the England spinners, who tormented the Indians in the Wankhede Test, Gambhir said: “They bowled very well, both (Graeme) Swann and (Monty) Panesar… But that doesn’t mean that we can’t tackle spin well. What amazes me is that we never appreciate the opposition.”