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Dhoni can lead India for three-four years – Fleming

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Stephen Fleming, the Chennai Super Kings coach and former New Zealand captain, feels that MS Dhoni can lead his country for another three to four years but is not sure whether he will be able to do so across Tests, ODIs and T20s given the amount of cricket India play.

“I haven’t spoken to him on this issue. But he is in fine shape and if he is fit, he can continue to lead for at least a good three to four years,” Fleming told PTI. “Having said that, I don’t know how long he will be playing all three formats. It’s pretty hard as India have such a tight schedule.

Dhoni has been India’s captain in limited-overs cricket since 2007 and in Tests since 2008. He has led his country in 53 Tests, 159 ODIs and 48 T20 internationals. No one has captained India in as many Tests and T20s, and only Mohammad Azharuddin led in more one-dayers than Dhoni has.

Dhoni will turn 33 in July. In January 2012, he had said he might have to give up one of the formats if he was to lead India’s World Cup defence in 2015. Such a decision would be made only at the end of 2013, he had said then.

Fleming said that an international captain could have issues if he led for more than four years, but added that this did not seem to apply to Dhoni. “Dhoni and Graeme Smith have been exceptions, but I feel that an international captain has a shelf-life of four years. After that it is easier to get back as another normal cricketer; if you have been the leader for too long, then it becomes difficult once you leave the job. You tend to miss the decision-making authority and stuff like that. In fact, I faced similar problems after I quit captaincy.”

Dhoni’s leadership style had suited the Indian team very well over the years, Fleming said. “Indians look for consistency and have a pattern. They have such talents that on a given day, some of them can single-handedly win matches. You don’t need too dynamic or too radical thought-processes when you have players like [Virat] Kohli, Dhoni. In the case of the New Zealand team, Brendon [McCullum] has to be a bit dynamic and try a different strategy as they don’t have a talent pool like India.”

Apart from his India responsibilities, Dhoni has also been Super Kings’ captain right from the inaugural IPL in 2008. Fleming has also been involved with the franchise since then, first as a player for the 2008 season and thereafter as coach. He said he had tried to ensure Dhoni enjoyed his time in franchise cricket while taking a breather from India duties. “What I try to provide MS is with two months of enjoyment, so that he can come into the Chennai side having taken a break from the Indian team. He loves his game and looks a pretty comfortable man winning games for Chennai consistently.”

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