Chennai, Apr 6: World Cup winning Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni today joined the growing calls to award batting ace Sachin Tendulkar the Bharat Ratna, saying no cricketer deserves it more than him.
“Yes, 200 per cent, because he is an ideal candidate, he has served the country for 21 years with a few more to come.
As a cricketer, you know, if he doesn't get it, then I don't think there's anyone who'll get the Bharat Ratna ever,” Dhoni said.
“I think he's done really great things for the country, taking cricket to the next level. He's known even in places where they don't know about the game, so I think it's a very big achievement taking the country forward.
He's done remarkably,” the Chennai Super Kings skipper said at a press meet to kickstart the IPL's fourth season, starting on Friday.
The Dhoni-led CSK, which won the double of the IPL and Champions League title last season, open their season with a home game against a Gautam Gambhir-led Kolkata Knight Riders.
Dhoni said it was a pleasure to hear words of praise from batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar who had said that he was the best captain he has played under.
Dhoni said he was trying to serve the nation like Tendulkar has been doing for years.
"I've tried to be honest throughout my career. Whatever responsibility is given on my shoulders, I try to fulfil it to the fullest extent. It's just my pleasure that he enjoys playing with me. I am also serving the nation like him," he said.
Dhoni paid tribute to outgoing coach Gary Kirsten, saying he has set high benchmarks for the team.
"What Gary has done to Indian cricket, I think the benchmark set is really high. When I say really high, (I mean) really high. We will miss him for sure but I assure you, Gary will miss us more.
"Someday when he decides to come back and coach a new team, he'll miss the Indian cricket team even more. There was a bond between him and the team and we'll definitely miss him," said Dhoni who led the Indian team to World Cup triumph last week.
Asked about Australian spin legend Shane Warne's reported desire to coach the Indian team, Dhoni said, "I don't know about it. I heard it from the media. But one thing is for sure, whoever wants to come in or comes in, those (Gary's) are big shoes to fill." PTI