Pacer Mohit Sharma said Mahendra Singh Dhoni backed players even when the going got tough and that former India captain is a calm presence off the field too.

Sharma was a relatively unknown prospect when he was picked for Chennai Super Kings in Indian Premier League in 2013. The medium-pacer quickly became Dhoni’s go-to man for the franchise and for India.

Indian cricket’s greatest captains: MS Dhoni – the legend who led his team to three ICC trophies

“What matters most is how good a human being a player is off the field,” Sharma said during the chat show Homerun with AV with sports commentator Arun Venugopal on his YouTube channel.

“Mahi bhai is a very good human being. That’s what makes him stand tall. There is so much you can learn from his off-the-field behaviour. I try to imbibe some of his qualities in my life so that I can inspire at least one or two people.”

Sharma revealed that the World Cup-winning captain’s door was always open for a chat and he backed players even when things don’t go according to plan. Senior spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, had also pointed out this quality of Dhoni during his chat with commentator Harsha Bhogle recently.

“The man is so nice that he always makes you feel comfortable,” said Sharma.

“Even if you get something wrong, he tries to ensure you learn from it. He is always there with a hand on your shoulder to say that he is there for you, and that if something goes wrong, we [the team] will handle it positively. That’s his greatest quality off the field.

“When you tell him of a problem, he handles it very calmly and tells you ‘you don’t have to over-think something that you have been doing all your life.’ Rather than focusing on the process, we end up complicating things by over-thinking it,” he added.

When MS Dhoni asked Sourav Ganguly to captain the Indian team in his final Test match

Sharma also explained how Dhoni mentored him during his early years in the IPL. Sharma entered the CSK setup in 2013 and was part of the team for three seasons before the three-time champions were suspended for the 2016 and ‘17 editions. The 31-year-old donned the yellow jersey yet again in 2019. Despite CSK not reaching the final in 2014, Sharma bagged 23 wickets to win the Purple Cap.

“During my first year with the Chennai Super Kings [in 2013] , he [Dhoni] didn’t ask me to set my own fields because he had seen what my strengths and weaknesses were. At that time, he wanted me to only handle the pressure of bowling and nothing more,” Sharma said.

“He would ask me to just go about my job and not worry too much about the fields. He said he would take care of it and took the pressure off me. The next year, he told me that I was ready to set my own fields according to my bowling plan.

“When you have played the IPL for a year and have also played for India, how a captain makes the player matters a lot. Mahi bhai trusted me to take responsibility and that taught me a lot. I had a lot of success that IPL season and won the Purple Cap.”

Watch Mohit Sharma’s interview here: