File pic – MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir. (Getty Images)
NEW DELHI: Former India opener Gautam Gambhir on Saturday said Mahendra Singh Dhoni must continue playing international cricket as long he feels he is fit, in form and enjoying the game.
The World Cup-winning swashbuckler, on a sabbatical from cricket for the past one year, turned 39 on July 7. He has not played any cricket since India’s semifinal exit from the ODI World Cup last year.
Gambhir, who played a lot of cricket with Dhoni, said, “Age is just a number, I think if you are in a very good form, if you are hitting the ball really well.
“MS Dhoni, if he is hitting the ball really well, if he is very good form, if he is enjoying the game and if he thinks that he can still win the game for the country at that number – especially at six and seven.”
Dhoni led the country in limited-overs formats from 2007 to 2016 and in Test cricket from 2008 to 2014.
He is the only captain to win all ICC trophies.
“If he is in great fitness and form, he should continue playing because no one can actually force anyone to retire,” Gambhir said on Star Sports show Cricket Connected.
“A lot of experts can put a lot of pressure on people like MS Dhoni because of their age and stuff but again it’s an individual decision, when you started playing cricket it was your individual decision.”
Under Dhoni’s captaincy, India won the inaugural World T20 in 2007, the 2011 ODI World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy, among others.
Speaking about the IPL taking place in the UAE due to rising COVID cases in India, Gambhir said, “It does not matter where it goes but if it goes to UAE, it’s a great venue to play cricket in any format and plus most importantly I think it’s going to change the mood of the nation as well.
“It’s not about which franchise wins or which player scores runs or which guy takes wicket, it’s simply changing the mood of the nation. So this IPL probably will be bigger than the rest of the IPLs because I think this is for the nation.”