Harbhajan Singh and M. S. Dhoni have been team-mates for years, but the latest edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) marked the first time the duo represented the same franchise.
With a clinical campaign, Chennai Super Kings waltzed its way through to its third title, completing a remarkable resurgence after two years of hiatus. Old warhorse Dhoni was at the centre of it all, his batting reinforcing his undimmed prowess.
So much so that the 36-year-old captain reminded Harbhajan of the ‘old Dhoni’. “He has been wonderful and it was good to see him batting up the order. He reminded me of the older version of Dhoni,” Harbhajan told Sportstar on Friday.
Super Kings relied on its seasoned captain to guide it home and coming up the order, Dhoni amassed 455 runs in 16 games, a move that has impressed Harbhajan.
'Age just a number'
The team — which clinched its third IPL title last week — had 10 players in the age group of 30 or above, but Harbhajan believes that in a tournament like the IPL, experience matters more than the age. “[Our performance] shows that age is just a number. If you are fit and you can run after a ball or score runs, then that should matter in the end and not how old you are on paper,” the 37-year-old spinner says.
He also has reasons to justify his point. “We make mistakes by saying that players are 30 or 35. My question is, so what? When people are 20-21, they make mistakes in the middle by not thinking wisely. Nonetheless, the people in 30s are experienced as they have gone through these stages in their career, so they know when to react and how to react in pressure situations. That’s where experience comes to play,” Harbhajan says.
“With age, you know which shots to play and how to trap a batsman with the ball. Experience matters the most and you have seen that with Chennai Super Kings.”
While he did not play all the matches for Super Kings — he featured in 13 games and scalped seven wickets — Harbhajan is happy with the way the fans of Super Kings backed the side. “It’s been a great outing for all of us. From the fans point of view, this is the best thing that has happened. They were waiting for CSK to come back and were very excited for the side,” he says, adding that not playing in Chennai was disappointing.
“We didn’t play much in Chennai, that’s very unfortunate. Yet, the crowd went to Pune to support. They were excited. A big team coming into the league is always good and we have got perfect results,” the seasoned campaigner says.
Before the tournament began, there was a bit of concern over whether old warhorses would be able to get back their old rhythm. But Super Kings' seasoned professionals defied naysayers.
As Harbhajan rightly puts it, "let’s not think too much about the age."