Mumbai: West Indian batting great Brian Lara came out in support of Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Friday, saying the under-fire Indian skipper "deserves another chance" despite the drubbings in England and the ongoing tour of Australia.
"I think he deserves a chance. He had success in the World Cup, the T20 World Cup, the 50-over games. I think given his achievements so far, he deserves another chance and everyone should come out and support him," said the 42-year-old left-hander.
"Obviously what happened in England and what is happening in Australia, no Indian would be happy with the situation. But a captain has to have the right team for the right conditions."
Lara also felt the lack of penetration in the Indian bowling attack was weighing on the minds of batsmen.
"Generally it's a difficult period now. However, if you switch the series to India, you could see different results," he said.
The Trinidadian, who has scored nearly 12,000 runs in 131 Tests and crossed the 10,000-run mark in 299 ODIs, felt that the lack of penetration in the Indian bowling attack was weighing on the minds of batsmen.
"What I would say is the bowling department is weak and the pressure weighs on the minds of the batsmen. If the opposition batsmen are regularly going to score 500 runs, it's going to put any batting team under pressure."
"I think India have got a great batting line-up but they would always be under pressure. First of all, if they are not going to get 20 wickets, they are not going to win a Test match. So what are your options...to try and get 400-500 but they (opposition) are going to score 600-700."
Lara, who along with batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar is considered the best batsman of his generation, also asked the latter's fans to be patient, saying that Tendulkar was in good touch and his much-awaited century was not far away.
"I don't think he is missing the trick. You guys (media) are missing the trick. I watched him bat in the last four innings. He looked flawless. He looked like scoring that elusive hundred every time. Unfortunately, he is up against guys who will not give up. He gets a good delivery, little lapse in concentration...and the opposition fully know that they don't want him to score it against them," said Lara.
"But Sachin is a great player. Obviously, if he had wanted to score it (100th century) against the West Indies he would have played in the one-day series. We will have to wait for it and appreciate it. Even if it doesn't happen, it doesn't make him a lesser player."
"He has 99 centuries. Anyone would love to have a record like that. For me, he is the best player in the world, at least the best batsman," said Lara.
Lara said that to become a good player, youngsters should be willing to take on the best in the world.
"Most of the youngsters don't want to play against the best. They have to love going to Australia, like to play on Indian pitches...England. If you want to be the best in the world, you have to do well against the best. There are many who wait to play against the minnows and score double centuries and triple centuries...," he said.
And, on a day when India were shot out for 161 on the opening day of the third Test in Perth, Lara said getting young players to play on sporting wickets would help give the Indian team a competitive edge in Test matches.
"I think it has to do with the infrastructure, your coaching scheme, and pitch development in terms of trying to get your young players to play on more sporting pitches," Lara said.
He clarified that he was not talking about the present crop of Indian cricketers, but thinking about getting a result five-to-10 years down the line.
"Get your young players to play on more sporting pitches so you can be more competitive on the international stage," said Lara.
Lara also said T20 had helped Test cricket become more result-oriented.
"I think it is an asset. It is certainly a positive inclusion. India may not be winning many Tests at the moment but there are a lot more results now."
Asked how he felt to be the only batsman to score a hundred, a double-hundred, a triple hundred, a 400 and a 500, Lara said he was willing to trade all his records to be a part of the side that was more successful.
Lara, who scored the highest Test score of 400 not out against England in 2004, six months after his earlier record of 375 against the same opposition was overtaken by Australia's Matthew Hayden, said getting the record for the second time was far more easier than when he passed Sir Gary Sober's score in 1993, at the age of 24.
He named Wasim Akram and Shane Warne, just a little ahead of Muttiah Muralitharan, as the best bowlers he had faced, adding that he was lucky not to face teammate Curtly Ambrose.