PUNE: MS Dhoni has always been known for his bold decision making. He took the cricketing world by surprise when he announced his retirement from Test cricket in December 2014. Soon after, the 35-year-old quit his leadership role from both ODIs and T20s.
However, Dhoni had always maintained that he was keen to continue his captaincy in the IPL. Just after the players auction this time around, news broke that Rising Pune Supergiant had replaced Dhoni with Steven Smith as captain for the tenth season of the T20 league. But the Ranchi dasher has not sulked around after his ouster. Teammates have maintained that he has been like a leader both on and off the field, which has helped the Pune players immensely.
RPS all-rounder Rajat Bhatia admitted that, for a foreign player, it is difficult to lead a side in the subcontinent with so many domestic players. He added Smith was lucky to share the same dressing room with someone as experienced as Dhoni.
“Smith has captained Rajasthan Royals before. But you obviously need help when you skipper a predominantly Indian side. Varying conditions, different wickets and a lot of unknown domestic players.
“With Dhoni in the team, Smith gets to discuss all these and a lot more. Being a wicketkeeper, he also helps in the field placements as he knows quite a few of the players and their strengths and weaknesses.”
Smith, for his part, also admitted that he has been helped immensely by the former India skipper.
“It’s pretty chilled out with him. He has been fantastic and has made valuable contributions whenever required.”
For a young foreign player trying to make a mark in the IPL, it can be pretty intimidating. He might feel out of place or might not be able to gel. Lockie Ferguson, the star bowler for Pune against Royal Challengers Bangalore, admitted that he is grateful to Dhoni for his guidance.
“It’s my first time here. I was nervous. But Dhoni is someone you can have a chat with. He is very cool and being a senior member, he has been very welcoming and helped me settle into the side. For lot of us younger guys, he is definitely a role-model and you can learn so much from being around him or seeing him practice.”
As far as Dhoni’s contribution with the willow is concerned, the 2011 World Cup winning captain has accumulated 173 runs from nine outings. Apart from his knock against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he hasn’t really set the stage alight. But his teammates have no doubt that he will produce another blinder very soon.
“We still have 5 games to go. MS comes out to bat in a very difficult position usually. It’s not always easy to just come in and start whacking balls. However, the dedication with which he trains and the way he conducts himself, we are pretty sure something special is just around the corner,” Ferguson added.