The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 10 , 2017

Dhoni is always down to earth, says Murali

- 'I have high hopes from Virat as he loves challenges'

Mahendra Singh Dhoni in Mumbai on Monday

Calcutta: Muttiah Muralidharan has praised Mahendra Singh Dhoni for being a down to earth person.

The legendary spinner, who is in the city for the Cricket Association of Bengal's Vision 2020 camp, said: "In my long career, from what I've seen, I can say that Dhoni is one of the best Indian cricket captains.

"I have played under his captaincy in Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and I never saw any arrogance from Dhoni. He has always been down to earth."

Muralidharan added: "Dhoni was always open to consulting the senior players (in CSK) like me and Michael Hussey. Despite being such a big star, he always maintained a low profile."

Dhoni stepped down as the captain of India's limited-overs sides last week and Virat Kohli has taken over as the captain in all formats. Kohli, though confident of the carrying responsibility successfully, has admitted that replacing Dhoni will be "massive shoes to fill."

Muralidharan, however, has high hopes from Kohli. "I have high hopes from Virat as he loves to take challenges and is a terrific batsman."

Test cricket's highest wicket-taker also warned Kohli that the upcoming ODI and T20I series against England won't be a cakewalk and that he should seek Dhoni's advice in dealing with the English challenge.

"England's ODI and T20I teams are very competitive and totally different from their Test side. Virat should not take them lightly and should always go to Dhoni for advice on the field. It is going to be a tough series for Virat," Muralidharan said.

The former Sri Lankan off-spinner believes Indian tweakers Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will play key roles in the series, and that it will also be an opportunity for them to test themselves for the Champions Trophy, to be held in England later this year.

"It is a very good move that both the top spinners will be playing in the series... India are not scheduled to play any more ODIs till the Champions Trophy in June and so, it will also be an opportunity for them to test themselves," Muralidharan said.

The Sri Lankan team is going through a transition, as Muralidharan thinks they need some time to cope up with the change. He, however, doesn't have any immediate plans to take up a coaching role with the Lankan team.

"The vacuum created by the retirement of senior players cannot be fulfilled so quickly. It will take more time... The boys are learning, I hope they cope up fast.

"But presently, I am doing well with the assignments that I have and there are no immediate plans to coach the Sri Lankan team," he said.

Muralidharan was also asked about Bengal's failure to qualify for the knock-out rounds of the Ranji Trophy and their spinners' lacklustre show. He replied: "It takes time to prepare good spinners."

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