Dhaka: The next generation of Indian players should not put themselves under pressure to copy illustrious compatriots like the retired Rahul Dravid or Sachin Tendulkar, according to captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
On Friday Dravid, 39, became the first of the celebrated modern-day batting line-up to quit, thus paving the way for 20-something players such as Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja to stake a claim for his number three spot.
"Every individual is different and anyone who comes in the side should not even think of replacing the kind of seniors that we have got," Dhoni told a news conference on the eve of the four-nation Asia Cup.
"The youngsters will (put themselves) under tremendous pressure if they start to think like that. They are legends of the game, enjoyed the sport and played with the right kind of spirit throughout.
"Anil (Kumble), Rahul, Sachin, (Vangipurappu) Laxman, Sourav (Ganguly), it's tough to replace them so there is no point thinking you have players who will replace them."
Dravid was easily India's best batsman during their disappointing tour of England last year - scoring three test centuries.
However, he suffered an unexpected slump in the recent series in Australia, averaging just 24.25 as India were walloped in all four tests.
Dravid, Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Laxman have scored a total of 45,717 test runs but failed to notch a single century between them despite playing all four tests in Australia.
While the stalwarts were given a free rein in Australia, in-form players such as Sharma could only watch from the sidelines as they waited patiently for a chance to get into the team.
When Virat Kohli, 23, became India's only Test centurion during the three-month tour, it became apparent what the young players had to offer and Dhoni was keen to stress they should take their time to establish themselves.
"Every individual is special, he brings special character into the side so definitely somebody will get an opportunity to become a hero for team India," said the captain.
"Maybe in 10 to 12 years' time you will have a cricketer who will be very successful. But to say whether they will replace Rahul or talent like that, it's difficult."
Besides Kohli, Sharma, Jadeja and Raina, batsmen such as Cheteshwar Pujara, Manoj Tiwary and Subramaniam Badrinath are also vying to secure places in India's test line-up.
While these players try to become the future of Indian cricket, Dhoni paid tribute to the man who ended his career as the second highest test run scorer of all-time.
"What we should be thankful for is Rahul played for 16 years, it's a long period," said Dhoni. "He was a great character to have in the dressing room.
"He was someone who loved challenges. He is someone who will definitely be missed. He is the ideal role model and a good ambassador for the sport."
The Asia Cup will be contested by India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and hosts Bangladesh. The first game of the biennial event is between Bangladesh and Pakistan on Sunday.