‘MS Dhoni was great listener, made collective decisions that benefited team’

The 2024 edition of the T20 World Cup is all set to get underway on June 2 and will be collectively hosted by the USA and West Indies. India will be up against Pakistan in a much-awaited encounter on June 9 in New York and former cricketer Harbhajan Singh came up to preview the high-intensity clash.

An ICC Trophy has eluded India for a long time now and it was under the heroics of Dhoni that India went on to lift three ICC Trophies. Singh spoke about the team dynamics under Dhoni’s captaincy and how the former skipper always made collective decisions to benefit the team.

Speaking exclusively in a special Star Sports Press Room to preview the India vs Pakistan match at the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup, former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh shared his insights on the team dynamics under Dhoni’s captaincy and his influence as a new captain during the 2007 T20 WC. Not many people know, Dhoni was a very new captain, so he needed that support from all of us. Before matches against teams like Australia, New Zealand, and England, our core group would get together during the game to strategize for the next few overs. For example, in a match against Australia, I bowled the crucial 17th or 18th overs because if we managed to give away only 4 runs, it saved us a lot. Back then, batters didn’t score 25 runs in an over unlike today.

“The decision-making was always a team effort. When you play together as a united team, you win more competitions. Dhoni was a great listener, making collective decisions that benefited the team. It was never about individual performances but about playing as ‘we’. Similarly, the question now is can Rohit Sharma do it? Rohit is not alone; it’s about ‘we’. If we play as a united team, thinking about collective success rather than individual achievements, then we can win. But if we only focus on personal goals, things become difficult. It’s all about the ‘we’ mentality, and that’s when things come to life.”

Harbhajan Singh spoke on his thoughts before the final over of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup final in 2007.  “When I finished my over, there was only one thing in my mind. I just wanted to pray that we would win the match from here. And there was a discussion before the last over whether it should be me or Jogi, who would bowl that final over. If Misbah didn’t hit me for sixes in my previous over, then probably I would have bowled that final over. Because in my previous over a lot of runs were scored. Misbah plays spin really well so we went with Jogi. Jogi also said that he should bowl the last over, so a lot of things were going on in my mind.”

S. Sreesanth shared his thoughts on Team India’s T20 World Cup win and how it was a collective team effort. See it all came down to that last over, and the decision-making to pick the right bowler for that over. And yes, we have to be grateful to Bhajji pa and Jogi, because even when Bhajji took that decision not to bowl that final over, he could have been the superstar who won the game for us against Pakistan. But he made the right decision for the team, and that is a selfless act. And then to tell the captain, that it’s not me, it should be someone else who can reduce the pace, so that really helped Dhoni Bhai to make the right decision. So it was more like a Dhoni, Bhajji, and Yogi, a team decision that made the right call. So that was what it was all about.

“The entire World Cup was like that. Yes, it was Mahi Bhai’s decision but he was listening to each and every individual, and that made a lot of difference. And however we played, I was genuinely grateful that I was part of the World Cup which nobody expected us to win, and the best part was nobody expected Mahi Bhai, the new captain, a young team with Arjun sir as the manager, and with Bhajji pa around, nobody expected us to win. But what I want to say is that it wasn’t a fluke. We worked really hard, we played, we made the right decisions not just the captain but every individual in the team.”

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