Rising Pune Supergiants owner Sanjiv Goenka on Monday revealed that senior India player MS Dhoni was dropped as captain of the side as they wanted someone younger to lead the team following a poor first season, NDTV reported.

The Indian Premier League franchise on Sunday had announced Steve Smith as new skipper in place of Dhoni. Goenka said the decision was taken after the team finished second from the bottom in the table, with nine defeats last season.

“[MS] Dhoni has not stepped down. We have appointed Steve Smith as the skipper for the upcoming season,” Goenka was quoted as saying by PTI. “Frankly speaking, we did not have a good last season and we wanted someone young to lead the side and revamp it ahead of the upcoming season 10.”

He added that Dhoni was supportive of the decision, and that he will continue to being an important member of the team. “I have the highest regard for MS Dhoni as a leader and a person. Dhoni will continue to be an important part of our team. He is supportive of the decision keeping the franchise’s best interests in mind,” Goenka added.

Goenka also revealed that the team’s quest for “people who are performance-oriented” led to vastly experienced India pacers Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan being released from the side ahead of the IPL auctions.

Azhar slams Pune owners for disrespecting Dhoni

Meanwhile, former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin slammed Pune Supergiants for unceremoniously sacking Dhoni as the team’s captain.

Azharuddin lambasted the Goenka-owned side for disrespecting a player of Dhoni’s standing in world cricket, “The decision and manner of execution was third-rate and disgraceful. Dhoni has been a jewel in Indian cricket.”

“He has won almost everything in the 8-9 years of his captaincy and even though the franchise can say they run the team with their own money, shouldn’t they have seen Dhoni’s stature and credibility before first stripping him of captaincy and then not even letting Dhoni gracefully quit on his own? I feel angry and sad as a former cricketer,” Azharuddin was quoted as saying by broadcasters Aaj Tak.

The 52-year-old argued that Dhoni had done enough as an IPL skipper do deserve a longer rope.

“What will a captain do when the team doesn’t play well? If Dhoni wasn’t good and an inspirational captain would he have won two IPL titles [with suspended outfit Chennai Super Kings]? Belittling Indian sporting legends like Dhoni through corporate board rooms is stooping down to the lowest. I feel the BCCI should not let this go and should deal with it,” Azharuddin added.