Kolkata: At a time when M.S. Dhoni is drawing a lot of flak for his on field behaviour with the umpires during an IPL game, his Chennai Super Kings teammate Imran Tahir backs the under-fire captain, saying he is a great leader, human being and an inspiration.
"He has been a great leader and a great human being. He is always there to help," Tahir said at the state launch of MS Dhoni Cricket Academy.
"That's what motivates me to join the academy to help the kids. I learn from him and he is a great inspiration," said the 40-year-old South African leg-spinner.
Dhoni was fined 50 per cent of his match fee after the former India captain lost his cool and rushed into the field to confront Indian umpire Ulhas Gandhe after he flip-flopped on a no ball on Thursday night during CSK's encounter with Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur.
Former cricketers came down heavily on India's two-time World Cup winning captain, saying Dhoni's act set a wrong precedent.
Asked if Dhoni is setting the right example for the budding cricketers, some of whom will also be part of this academy, Tahir refused to comment.
"No answer, I am really sorry for that."
Tahir was also effusive in praise for fast rising India chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, saying he rates the 24-year very highly.
"I rate him very highly. He is a very good spinner and is doing really well in world cricket."
About South Africa's chances in the World Cup starting May 30, Tahir said he is hopeful of a positive outcome.
"I am going to back my team to do well, obviously."
The MS Dhoni academy has a total of 17 branches in India, Singapore and Dubai.
This will be 17th branch, located in Salt Lake area of the city. There will be second branch coming up soon in Basirhat, a municipality in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, the organisers said.
The trials are currently underway in the age category of 7-19.
"The focus of the academy will be on mental toughness and not only honing cricketing skills which has always been Dhoni's forte," said head coach of the academy Satrajit Lahiri, a former Ranji Trophy player.
"We are going to sponsor underprivileged children too," he added.
"All their academies are based in small towns keeping in mind Dhoni's background coming from Ranchi."
Tahir was quizzed how will he find time for the academy keeping in mind his international and other commitments throughout the year.
"Even though I have not announced myself globally as part of the academy, after the World Cup I am free. Even if I have to come to India or go to any place to help the academy, I am free to come," he said.
"I always try to help the youngsters whenever I can. Wherever I go to play I try to guide the kids."