Sydney: Under-fire Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni got much-needed support from former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram who said the "hullabaloo" about his leadership is "ill-timed" as speculated replacement Virender Sehwag is not qualified for the job.
"The entire hullabaloo around MS Dhoni`s captaincy is extremely ill-timed. Captain-bashing is a favourite pastime of cricket pundits in the Indian sub-continent and the media just loves it," wrote Akram in his column.
"...I believe Dhoni is the best man to lead India and will remain so in the immediate future...In recent times, BCCI`s planning has reflected poorly on India`s overseas performances. So, it would be unfair to make Dhoni a scapegoat.”
"There are two names - Sehwag and Virat Kohli – doing the rounds as `next` captains. In my book, none of them qualify for the job," he said.
Akram said while the pressure on Dhoni is understandable after consecutive Test whitewashes on foreign soil but Sehwag was not too impressive either when he got the chance to lead the side in the final Test against Australia.
"Sehwag was very unimpressive when he led the Indian team at Adelaide and Kohli is a kid who has just begun his career. He can wait for another five years. I had expected better body language from Sehwag and his team during the Adelaide Test, but I was disappointed," he said.
"This `I give-a-damn` attitude is counter-productive when the chips are down. What did Sehwag do to salvage India`s pride at Adelaide? I sometimes see streaks of Shahid Afridi in Sehwag. That dreadful propensity to self-destruct!" he explained.
"Dhoni may not have done enough as skipper, but two bad series does not mean he should be derided and kicked out. Does the BCCI really have an option?"
Akram said he expects a "new" India to take the field in the shorter format starting tomorrow with a Twenty20 against Australia even though bowling remains an area of concern.
"There is still a lot to play for in Australia. With Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina and Praveen Kumar coming in, India are a solid ODI and T20 team. I think India have the right mix to give high-flying Australia a run for their money and we shall see a `new` India in the first T20," he said.
"India`s bowling remains a concern. Ishant Sharma has been the biggest disappointment. He has talked about the `luck factor`. All that is just a lame excuse. After playing 45 Test matches, Ishant has not learnt to take responsibility," he said.
"When a quick bowler can`t make an impact on a Perth or MCG wicket, he never will. First things first, he must first learn to bowl on one side of the wicket."
Akram said India need to keep their confidence level up to get the results.
"Self-belief will be crucial going forward in the remainder of the Australian tour. India must not tamper with their batting order. Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir must open the innings because they already have a `feel` of the conditions," he said.
"The more India back themselves, the better they will play. It`s a brand new chapter and India must demonstrate the body language of a world champion. Hope Dhoni shows the way with his young brigade," he added.