‘Learned a lot from him’: Steve Smith shares his experience captaining MS Dhoni in the IPL

Australian superstar Steve Smith served as captain of the now defunct Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) in IPL 2017. At the time, there was a lot of speculation about how he would lead a team that included the highly successful former Indian skipper MS Dhoni. After a lackluster start to the season, Dhoni was replaced as captain by Smith who then led the team to the finals where they narrowly lost to the Mumbai Indians (MI).

Smith has now returned to the IPL in 2023 as a member of the commentary panel for Star Sports, reflecting on his experience captaining RPS and working with Dhoni. He said he initially felt daunted by the prospect of leading a team with such an experienced cricketer, but credited Dhoni for providing him with valuable guidance and support both on and off the pitch. Smith also noted that he has learned a lot from Dhoni’s calm and collected approach to leadership and has tried to emulate it in his own style.

“So, you know, when I got the call to say they wanted me to be captain, it was a bit disheartening. But that season, MSD was just great. You know, he helped where he could and he’s a great guy. It was a great experience to be able to captain him, but also very discouraging. Smith was quoted against Star Sports.

Smith further described his emotions upon being named captain of RPS, including his initial shock and uncertainty about working with Dhoni.

“At first I didn’t really know what to expect. MS captained every team he played for, obviously during the IPL with Chennai, every season I must say. But when they came to ask me, I was a little shocked at first, and then I didn’t really know what to say. It was like, have you talked to MS about this? This is a bit strange on my part, but after we sorted everything out, MS was just great. And the way he helped me that year and helped guide that team was incredible. And yes, I couldn’t thank him enough.

“He was someone I bounced ideas off of. Because he’s behind the stumps, he has a great, great view of the game. He understands the corners very well and of course also plays in India, you know, it’s his home and he understands those conditions as well as anyone. So I would have been stupid not trying to get as much knowledge out of him in the middle. And he was really helpful and definitely helped us achieve what we did that year,” added Smith.

However, the Aussie praised Dhoni for his willingness to offer advice and assistance throughout the season, noting that the wicketkeeper-bats’ experience and understanding were invaluable to the team. Smith also spoke of the importance of maintaining a calm and level-headed approach to leadership, which he learned from watching Dhoni over the years.

“I think just the calmness that MS shows, we saw it throughout his career, how calm he was. It didn’t look like he was upset by emotions or anything like that. And that’s definitely something that not only did I understand in that season, but I’ve just seen him go about his business over the years, how calm and relaxed he was. Sometimes I can get pretty excited and things like that. So I have to try to keep myself as calm and level-headed as possible. And yes, that’s definitely something I learned from MS.

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