'MS was rattled to the core': Ex-IPL star says Gambhir 'played with Dhoni's ego' – Hindustan Times

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Virat Kohli isn’t the only Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir has a history with. MS Dhoni also makes the list. Over the years, Gambhir has often traded barbs at India’s most successful captain – be it over the 2011 World Cup final or during their battles in the IPL, especially when they were pitted against each other as rival captains – the IPL 2012 final remains a prime example. The duo also locked horns when CSK were slapped with a two-year-ban and Dhoni captained the Rising Pune Supergiant/s for a couple of years. Gambhir and Dhoni fought tooth and nail with each trying to outsmart the other tactically.
On Wednesday, during Chennai Super Kings’ IPL 2023 encounter against Lucknow Super Giants that saw Gambhir and Dhoni once again squaring off against each other – albeit in a different role – former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan narrated a fascinating incident. Dhoni’s biggest asset, besides being a grand finisher, is that he has always managed to keep a steady and calm demeanour; however, Pathan’s mind harked back to the time when Gambhir’s tactics got inside Dhoni’s head.
The instance Pathan is talking about was during the two years when Gambhir would set up a Test match-like field, bringing in close-in field and whenever Dhoni walked out to bat and made operated with his top spinners – either Sunil Narine or Piyush Chawla. And to Gambhir’s credit, the ploy worked almost everytime with Dhoni falling to spin cheaply.
“Gautam Gambhir played with the ego of MS Dhoni when he was the captain of KKR. He was the only one who succeeded in rattling him for years,” Pathan, who was teammates with Dhoni at Pune, said while doing commentary on Hindi. Referring to Gambhir’s strategy, he added: “MS was rattled to the core by the field setting”
In a match between KKR and RPS in 2016, Dhoni came to bat with his team struggling at 74/4 with Chawla in red-hot form. Sending the opportunity, Gambhir went all in and surrounded Dhoni with fielders. He brought in Shakib Al Hasan, Suryakumar Yadav and Yusuf Pathan in close-in positions, giving Dhoni no breathing room. As years passed, Dhoni had become a bit susceptible against spin and Gambhir knew it. With Dhoni trying to defend or block, he looked extremely vulnerable.
Another reason why Pathan can vouch for it is because he sacrificed his wicket for his former RPS captain. Dhoni was 5 off 14 when he nudged the ball and took off. Pathan responded but after taking a few steps realised that perhaps the run wasn’t on. However, by then, Dhoni was almost half-way through the pitch and screamed ‘Run’ at his partner. Pathan eventually went for it and although Dhoni made the crease, Irfan didn’t.
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