Irfan Pathan, the former India all-rounder, has highlighted how MS Dhoni‘s leadership style changed distinctly from 2007 to 2013, explaining how the former India captain became “much calmer” and trusting towards his bowlers.
Pathan was part of the India squads both in the 2007 T20 World Cup, Dhoni’s first ICC title, and the 2013 Champions Trophy, when he became the first skipper to win all three major ICC trophies. While he did not get a game in the 2013 tournament, Pathan, talked about the trust that Dhoni developed towards his bowlers as his captaincy gathered experience, while speaking on the Star Sports show Cricket Connected.
“In 2007, it was the first time [he was captaining India] and you understand that when you are given a big responsibility of leading the country, you get excited about certain things,” Pathan said, when asked about the difference in captaincy styles in 2007 and 2013.
“The team meetings were always small, both in 2007 and 2013, there was no difference in terms of the five-minute meetings. The one thing which really really changed – obviously that happens with experience – when young MS Dhoni became captain in 2007, he used to run from his wicketkeeping [spot] to the bowler in excitement and try to control the bowler, but by the time 2013 came he was letting the bowler control themselves rather [than] he controlling them. So, he understood that. He was very calm and in control during the 2013 Champions Trophy.”
Left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati, Dhoni’s former teammate at Chennai Super Kings, had recently told Wisden India how the wicketkeeper “loved his spinners” and “gave us [the bowlers] freedom to set our own fields and bowl to our strengths.” Speaking on similar lines, Pathan said that his trust in his spin bowlers evolved into the unmatched ability to pinpoint key moments of the game where the slow bowlers needed to be pressed into action.
“When Dhoni became the captain for the first time and obviously talking about 2013 Champions Trophy, he gained the experience, in between, of trusting his slow bowlers. He used to always trust his slow bowlers, his spinners, and by the time Champions Trophy came he was very clear that in crucial moment he needs to get his spinners into play to win the games,” Pathan said.