New Delhi, Dec 28: As India were busy playing gruelling Test series against England, team's limited overs' skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was out of action.
Fans kept wondering how 'Captain Cool', MS Dhoni, kept himself busy and what was he doing in his free time.
Well, Dhoni was spending time away from international cricket in mentoring Jharkhand's Ranji team. The 34-year-old has been with the Jharkhand team for quite a while and even played practice games with the boys ahead of the season.
Dhoni's presence in Jharkhand's dressing room and the bulk of experience that he carries has earned the team rich dividends.
Recently, chasing down a fourth-innings target of 175 runs, Jharkhand defeated Haryana, on December 26, by five wickets and booked a ticket to semi-finals in the Ranji Trophy.
Haryana were dismissed for 262 runs as left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem took four wickets for 78 runs for a match figure of 11-157. Leg-spinner Samar Quadri picked 3-75 in the second innings.
Jharkhand, who had a first innings lead of 87 runs, chased down the total in a hurry, thanks to opener Ishan Kishan's blistering knock of a 61-ball 86.
Openers Ishan (86) and Anand Singh (27) provided a 91-run stand to get their side only 84 behind the target, which the team chased down comfortably.
Left-hander Ishan, who was India's captain at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup, punished all the bowlers as he smacked nine fours and six sixes to score 86 from just 61 deliveries.
The 18-year-old has had a remarkable Ranji season so far. The wicketkeeper batsman has scored 700-plus runs in 9 games in the Ranji season so far.
Dhoni was instrumental in Ishan's success in the ongoing Ranji season as he gave the youngster important tips which helped Ishan.
Ishan was quoted by Sportskeeda.com as saying, "Dhoni (bhai) saw me at the nets and walked up to me and said that I needed to curtail my attacking instincts to begin with. He believed that to play a long innings I needed to be a little more compact and I did just that."
As per Ishan, the most successful Indian skipper also asked him to change his stance and the youngster feels when it comes from someone like Dhoni, you can trust his observation.
"I got time to rework my stance and train with my new stance during the camp ahead of the season and I realised that I was feeling a lot better at the crease. I have maintained that stance since and I have seen that it has enhanced my batting," Ishan added.
Dhoni's presence also helped Nadeem, who is the leading wicket-taker of the season with 50 scalps so far.
Speaking about Dhoni's contribution, Nadeem was quoted by TOI as saying, "It always helps when you have someone like Dhoni (bhai) to help you. There is no questioning his tactical acumen and I still remember that going into the game against Maharashtra, the wicket wore a slightly greener look. So he came up to me and said that I should initially look to restrict the batsmen and use variations only after I have tied them down. The move worked wonders and here I am, leading the wicket-takers' tally."
Jharkhand's coach Rajiv Kumar also credited Dhoni's presence with the team along with playing on neutral venues and team effort.
"It was really a good decision to involve Dhoni as the mentor of the side. Dhoni has been with the Jharkhand team for quite a while. As you all know, he even practices with the team and was in the team's dressing room for first two matches of the season. With a wealth of experience, Dhoni's presence as a mentor was a great move.
"He counselled the team how to handle pressure, and he is a perfect role model for the team. We wanted him to play the four-day games, but he said that he had retired from Test cricket and would be available for ODIs and T20s," Kumar said.
Jharkhand will now face Gujarat in the semi-final, starting January 2.