Harbhajan Singh recalls the time when MS Dhoni allowed Shardul Thakur to bowl according to his plan

Harbhajan Singh recalls the time when MS Dhoni allowed Shardul Thakur to bowl according to his plan

"Bhajju pa, if I tell him anything now, he will get confused," Dhoni had said to Harbhajan.

MS Dhoni and Shardul Thakur
MS Dhoni and Shardul Thakur. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Over the years, MS Dhoni has garnered the impression of being a relaxed individual on the field. He has carried India to three ICC trophies – T20 World Cup in 2007, 50-over World Cup in 2011 and Champions Trophy in 2013. His abilities to stay calm under tough situations is something which is praised by many. Not just the World titles, the Ranchi wicketkeeper-batsman has also won three IPL titles with Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Under his leadership, CSK has become without a doubt one of the most successful teams in the history of T20 cricket.

For the past few years, players who have shared the field or dressing room with Dhoni have often tried to explain what sets him apart from others. In an interview, Harbhajan Singh also tried to give his theory on why he is such a successful skipper. Harbhajan, who has played a lot of cricket under Dhoni, explained that he gives the bowler time to think what ball he wants to bowl.

He is not a captain who says, do this, do that, says Harbhajan on Dhoni

“He is not a captain who says, do this, do that. He wants you to do what you know you can do. Bowl what you know you can. If you can bowl six offspinners, do that,” the 39-year-old said in an interview with ESPNCricinfo. “Yes, he has nudged me at times – from behind the stumps or at the change of overs – saying, this guy is trying to do this or will try this. But he never tells me what to do,” he added.

Harbhajan Singh was a part of the sides which Dhoni led to the 20 and 50 overs World Cup triumphs in 2007 and 2011 respectively. Apart from this, the Punjab off-spinner has been the part of CSK since 2018. It was CSK’s comeback season in 2018 when he arrived and the team won the IPL trophy.

Bhajji then narrated a story from one of the IPL matches in 2018. He recalled the time when Shardul Thakur was taken to cleaners and how MS Dhoni reacted. Harbhajan described how Dhoni decided to deal with the situation.

“Once Shardul Thakur was bowling in Pune. He was getting hit every ball. First ball four, second ball six. I went to Dhoni and told him, “Why don’t you tell him [Thakur] to change the angle or push a fielder back?”,” Harbhajan recalled. “As if he had all the time in the world, Dhoni said to me, ‘Bhajju pa, if I tell him anything now, he will get confused. Khaane do.’ [Let him get hit.]

“He knew we could afford to get hit because we had already qualified for the playoffs. He [Dhoni] said, ‘When he [Thakur] feels there is no option left, then I can tell him he could try doing this.’ So Dhoni will not tell you until you realise you are short of ideas,” the bowler added.