Rising Pune Supergiant reached IPL 2017 final because of MS Dhoni and not Steve Smith: Rajat Bhatia
Domestic cricket veteran Rajat Bhatia on Wednesday recalled his stint with Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 and gave a strong statement on the leadership of Australian batsman Steve Smith. Bhatia said that Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the main reason the team made it to the season finale.
Rising Pune Supergiant featured in two IPL seasons – 2016 and 2017 – after Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals were handed a two-year ban. Dhoni led the Pune-based franchise in its debut season but was replaced by Smith in 2017. The team made it to the IPL final that year but lost to Rohit Sharma-led MI by one run.
Speaking on the inaugural episode of SportsTiger’s new interview series - Interact. Personal. Laugh & Life, Bhatia shared his thoughts on the IPL and revealed that the franchises have their own respective thought processes when it comes to selecting a captain.
“IPL is a tournament where every franchise has its own call. They mostly trust the big names available in the squad. The trend of giving captaincy to an overseas player is still going on. But I was never in favour of this as overseas players aren’t aware of the domestic players.
You can never compare Dhoni with Steve Smith. If we look at all the 10 franchises, Smith doesn’t even feature in the top 10 captains for me. Smith had no idea about captaincy and he did not know which bowler to bring in amid a crucial situation and who to trust for the death overs. I was surprised that Rajasthan Royals trusted him with the leadership role and now they let them go,” he said.
As far as Dhoni’s leadership is concerned, he is a matured captain. He knew how to utilise his players.
“For me, a successful captain in IPL is one who is an Indian player and know the domestic cricketers very well. Smith didn’t even know Rahul Tripathi represents which state or bats at what position. We [Rising Pune Supergiant] made it to IPL 2017 final because of MS Dhoni and not Steve Smith,” he added.
Besides representing RPS, Bhatia had also played for the likes of Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) and Kolkata Knight Riders. He has played a total of 95 games in the cash-rich tournament and scaled 71 wickets and scored 342.