Pune, Jan 12: Team India's head coach and former captain Anil Kumble today (January 12) praised Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his achievements as a skipper and hailed his "selfless" decision to hand over the reins to Virat Kohli.
Last week, Dhoni quit as India's limited overs captain and Kohli was named as his successor, making him the skipper in all three formats. (Check out Team India's new '4D' jersey)
Ahead of the 1st ODI against England in Pune on January 15 (Sunday), coach Kumble paid rich tributes to Dhoni and said he still had a lot to offer as a batsman and wicketkeeper.
'I was old in 2008'
In 2008, Dhoni had taken over the Test captaincy from Kumble, who retired from international cricket back then.
On Thursday, Kumble was asked about the transition in 2008 and now. The former legspinner said it was easy for him to hand over the captaincy to Dhoni in 2008 since he was "old".
"The first phase was probably easy for me because I was old. It was easy for me to say here MS (Dhoni), take over (as captain)," the 46-year-old Kumble said.
"It was very difficult for me to continue at that point in time. The body was not willing. I thought it was the right time for me to leave because MS was ready to take over the Test captaincy, he had just won the T20 World Cup (2007) and won the one-day format, for the first time in Australia, the triangular series (2008). He had done all the right things and I felt it was the right time for me (to go). Of course the body told me it was the right time," he added.
Kumble praised the achievements of Dhoni, calling him "phenomenal". Dhoni is the only captain in history to have won all three International Cricket Council's (ICC) trophies - World T20 (2007), World Cup (2011) and Champions Trophy (2013).
"From 2007 to 2017, I mean 10 years as captain is phenomenal. It goes to show the capabilities of MS as a leader and what he has been able to achieve during the transition phase and also when the seniors left as well, it was not easy," Kumble, who is India's highest wicket-taker in both Tests (619) and ODIs (337), said.
He continued, "Coming into a team as captain and then having so many senior players, he managed them really well. Not just got the best out of them (seniors) and also got the best for the team, both as taking the Test team to number 1, winning the World Cup in 2011, Champions Trophy (2013) and of course many more victories."
"Hats off to him. Congratulations to him for all the things that he has done"
Kumble, who was appointed as India coach last year, said all the current players, barring Yuvraj Singh, had made their India debuts under Dhoni.
"Probably, in this team, other than Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh), everbody else has started their careers under him (Dhoni). That is the kind of transition, you may call, that he has seen. It has been phenomenal to achieve what he has been able to achieve as a captain," he said.
The coach said Dhoni is still a "leader" in the team and the wickekeeper-batsman shares a good relationship with Kohli.
'Dhoni still a leader'
"We all know the value that he brings as a player, as a batsman, as a keeper and of course the value on the field with all the experience that he has. It is never easy to take a call (on quitting captaincy). Hats off to him. That shows how selfless he is. He probably thought it was the right time for Virat to take over like how I felt that point in time that it was right time for MS to come in. It is great for the team to have MS on the field with Virat leading the side.
"Like I mentioned, Virat came into the side when MS was captain, so the bonhomie and the bond they have, it will only help Virat to grow as a leader. Virat has shown the exceptional quality that he has and what he brings to the team both as an individual and a leader (in Tests). That certainly rubbed off on a lot of other individuals in the team. And we have seen the results in the Test format. I am sure in the one-day format he will be equally good.
"Like I mentioned, MS has been one of the best captains we have had. And in terms of the results he has had for India, has been exceptional. Hats off to him. Congratulations to him for all the things that he has done as a captain. Now really looking forward to MS as a batsman, keeper and as a leader. He is still a leader in the team."