« Back to articlePrint this article

'Dhoni a special player and a special captain'

March 08, 2024 13:59 IST

'When you are playing for CSK with Dhoni as the captain, whether the team is weak or strong on paper, you always have a chance of winning.'

IMAGE: CSK all-rounder Moeen Ali with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Photograph: BCCI

All-rounder Moeen Ali has lavished praise on England skipper Ben Stokes despite the underwhelming Test performance against India, saying the all-rounder is special for the way he has transformed the side into an 'amazing and entertaining' unit.

Ali, who has retired from the longest format, said Stokes deserves plenty of credit for ensuring that England are better than average.


"I had Joe Root and Alastair Cook as my captains, but Stokesy was just different. The way he's taking the game and team forward, it's really amazing. He took England from not playing great cricket to amazing and entertaining cricket," Ali told ESPNCricinfo.

England are trailing 1-3 in the ongoing series and the the fifth and final Test is currently in progress in Dharamsala. Ali also defended the visiting team's ultra-aggressive 'Bazball' approach, which has drawn criticism for being one-dimensional after India managed to gain the upper-hand.

"Everyone is talking about Bazball. But they actually don't believe much in (the term). They just want to play this brand of cricket. I think he is a special captain and a special player," said Ali.

The Birmingham man voted in favour of the aggressive game that England follow under Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, saying Test cricket is in need of this particular brand of cricket.

"They have taken to India on difficult wickets. I love that about Bazball. There's always a chance. India are also taking the game on. Look at the way (Yashasvi) Jaiswal is playing. He is doing unbelievably well.

"It is the way the game needs to go for people to watch. Test cricket also has to change. There's still time for proper Test match batting, but it needs to get forward. This is what Bazball is doing," he explained.

The 68-Test veteran was also delighted to see the young crop of England spinners -- Tom Hartley, Shoaib Bashir and Rehan Ahmed -- giving a good account of themselves in the series against India.

"India is a very difficult place. I know the wickets have spun nicely, still they have carried their own. I thought Hartley did really well in the first game (in Hyderabad).

"No matter what wicket, on debut, under pressure, the way he has battled is really, really good. This is a very inexperienced bowling attack. It is not even experienced in domestic cricket. You have to give them a lot of credit," he said.

Ali will next be seen in action in IPL 2024 starting later this month. He believes his team five-time champions Chennai Super Kings will always have an edge over their opponents because of the unpredictable strategies of their captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

"Dhoni is a special player and a special captain. When you are playing for CSK with Dhoni as the captain, whether the team is weak or strong on paper, you always have a chance of winning," Ali said.

The spinner said despite playing three seasons for CSK, Dhoni still surprises him with his tactics.

"I have played three seasons but I don't know what he is going to come up with. His strategic persona is really good. It is exciting as a player - what role he has for you," he said.

© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.