Rajat Bhatia has claimed that the Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) reached the IPL 2017 final because of MS Dhoni and not skipper Steve Smith. The domestic cricket veteran alleged that Smith often ran out of ideas in critical situations during IPL 2017.
In an interview with SportsTiger’s – Interact. Personal. Laugh & Life, Bhatia remarked that he wouldn't consider Steve Smith in his list of top 10 captains. He further added that unlike MS Dhoni, who was well acquainted with all his players, Smith didn't even know the batting position of some of his teammates.
“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,” said Rajat Bhatia.
Bhatia further added in this regard:
“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."
Rising Pune Supergiant featured in two seasons of the IPL - 2016 and 2017. The franchise finished second from bottom under MS Dhoni's captaincy in 2016.
Consequently, Steve Smith replaced MS Dhoni as captain of RPS in IPL 2017. The franchise fared much better next season, finishing second in the league stage before losing to the Mumbai Indians in the final by just one run.
There was a lack of maturity in Gautam Gambhir's captaincy at Delhi Daredevils: Rajat Bhatia
Rajat Bhatia, who has 342 runs and 71 wickets to his namein 95 IPL matches, also spoke about his captain at Kolkata Knight Riders - Gautam Gambhir. Although Bhatia praised Gambhir for trusting him, the 41-year-old stated that the former India opener was 'immature' in marshaling his troops at Delhi Daredevils in 2018.
“I really enjoyed playing under the captaincy of Gautam Gambhir. However, during his third year for Delhi Daredevils, there was a lack of maturity in his captaincy, maybe because it was his first ever role as a captain in the IPL and there were also a lot of changes made. When we both moved to KKR and he became the captain, I had a doubt whether I’ll be able to enjoy under his captaincy or not… He used to prefer me in his playing 11 and always used to tell me that he believed in me and knew how to use me. That’s why I enjoyed playing under him,” said Rajat Bhatia.
While MS Dhoni and Rajat Bhatia have retired from international cricket, Steve Smith continues to play for Australia.
Both Dhoni and Smith will feature in the IPL 2021, which starts from April 9, for Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals respectively.