NEW DELHI: Former Australian cricketer coach Greg Chappel is someone who is more hated than being loved in India for his infamous spat with the then Indian captain Saurav Ganguly during his brief stint as Indian cricket team coach. That sure reflected somewhat in former Indian offspinner Harbhajan Singh's reaction to what the veteran Aussie commented on Indian legend Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Harbhajan Singh took a subtle dig at Greg Chappel but left nothing for imagination when he disdainfully hashtagged his tweet with 'worst days of Indian cricket' comment.
What pricked Harbhajan to react to Greg Chappel in an interesting story. The veteran cricketer from Down Under, in a recent interaction on his Facebook handle of the Playwrite Foundation bragged about his role in making MS Dhoni flourish and emerge as a calculative finisher.
He recalled a match aginst Sri Lanka in 2005 and said that he had thrown a challenge to Dhoni to hit the balls along the ground at a time when the Indian wicketkeeper batsman was taking the bowlers to the cleaners. Chappel said that he would always challenge Dhoni to 'finish games' for India and the latter would have a broad smile on his face every time he accomplished the task for the team.
Reacting to Greg's comments on MS Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh wrote: "He asked Dhoni to play along the ground coz coach was hitting everyone out (of) the park. He was playing different games #worstdaysofindiancricketundergreg (sic)."
Chappel however was in full praise of Dhoni as he called him the best finisher he had ever seen. "I remember his knock of 183 against Sri Lanka and how he tore them apart. It was power hitting at its very best. The next match was in Pune. I asked MS, 'why don't ou pla along the ground more instead of trying to hit every ball to the boundary?' We were chasing 260 odd and were in a god position and Dhoni was playing a contrasting innings to the one he had played just a few days before.
"We still needed 20 runs for a win and Dhoni asked me through 12th man RP Singh if he could hit sixes. I told him not until the target was in single digit. When we needed six runs, he finished the game with a six." Chappel said.
"I always used to challenge him if he could finish the game. There used to be a booming smile on his face whenever he used to score the winning runs. He is definitely the best finisher the game has ever seen." he signed off.
Greg Chappel's tenure as Indian cricket head coach between 2005 and 2007 was one of the most controversial due to his disharmony with a lot of senior players. It reached a flashpoint with his highly publicised rift with the then India captain Saurav Ganguly. He was never known to have a good working relationship even with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar.
Ironically, it was Saurav Ganguly who played a key role in hiring Greg Chappel for this role. He later conceded that 'hiring him was his biggest mistake'.