Former India pacer Irfan Pathan has revealed that World Cup-winning ex-skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni liked to control his bowlers when he started his captaincy stint back in 2007 but came to trust them by 2013, a phase during which he also became a calmer leader. The 35-year-old Pathan, who played under Dhoni as part of both the 2007 World Cup-winning team and the 2013 Champions Trophy-clinching side, said the years, as they went by, changed Dhoni the captain in more ways than one.
"In 2007, it was the first time and you understand that when you are given a big responsibility of leading a team, you get excited," Pathan said on Star Sports' 'Cricket Connected' when asked how Dhoni changed as a captain between 2007 and 2013.
"The team meetings were always small though, both in 2007 and 2013 during Champions Trophy, just 5 minutes meeting," added the bowler, who announced his retirement from all forms of cricket earlier this year. Talking about the one change that he noticed in Dhoni, Pathan said, "when young Mahendra Singh Dhoni became a captain in 2007, he used to run from the wicket-keeping end to the bowler in excitement and try to control the bowler as well.
"By 2013, he was letting the bowler control themselves rather he controlling them, so he understood that and he was very calm and in control in 2013 Champions Trophy."
Dhoni has not played any cricket since India's semifinal exit from the ODI World Cup last year. He led the country in limited-overs formats from 2007 to 2016 and in Test cricket from 2008 to 2014. The 38-year-old is the only captain to win all ICC trophies. Under his captaincy, India won the 2007 World T20, the 2010 and 2016 Asia Cups, the 2011 ODI World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy. Pathan said by 2013, Dhoni had started employing the spinners in crunch situations to win matches.
"When Dhoni became the captain for the first time and then obviously talking about 2013 Champions Trophy, he gained the experience, in between, of trusting his slow bowlers,
"...he was very clear that in crucial time he needs to get his spinners into play to win the games," he said.