Former India captain Sourav Ganguly is known to be the architect of Indian team which learned to win when the challenge was tough. Ganguly identified his players and backed them when their performances dipped. In fact, the core of the team that lifted the World Cup in 2011 played under the current BCCI President during their early days in international cricket. Be it Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag or even MS Dhoni – all have received the trust of Ganguly even when they were not in the best of forms.
However, former India chairman of selectors Kiran More, whose selection committee is often credited for scouting MS Dhoni, has now recalled an old story. He said that he, in fact, had to convince the then-India captain Ganguly to let Dhoni keep wickets in a Duleep Trophy final in 2003-04 against North Zone, instead of the regular East Zone keeper Deep Dasgupta.
More added that at that point India were actively looking for a wicketkeeper who could score quick runs and their search ended in MSD who was scoring a lot of runs in domestic circuit.
“We were looking for a wicket-keeper batsman. At that time the format was changing and we were looking for a power-hitter, someone who can come at No.6 or 7 and get us quick 40-50 runs. Rahul Dravid played 75 ODI matches as a wicket-keeper and he played the 2003 World Cup as well. So, we were desperate for a wicket-keeper,” More said in a YouTube show called The Curtly and Karishma.
“My colleague saw him first, then I went and saw him. I especially flew down and saw him get 130 runs out of the team’s total of 170. He smashed everyone. We wanted him to play in the final as a wicketkeeper. That’s when we had a lot of debate with Sourav Ganguly and Deep Dasgupta – who played for India then and who was from Calcutta. So, it took about ten days to convince Sourav and his selector to ask Deep Dasgupta to not keep wickets, and to let MS Dhoni keep wickets,” he added.
We gambled on the right horse and it paid off: More
Interestingly, Dhoni had actually opened in that match for East Zone with former India batsman SS Das. While he managed only 21 runs in the first innings, he scored a thunderous 60 off 47 balls in the second innings against a North Zone attack comprising of the likes of Ashish Nehra, Amit Bhandari and Sarandeep Singh. Soon after his performance here, Dhoni was selected for the tri-series in Kenya where he emerged as the highest run-scorer and was later named in the India squad.
“Dhoni kept wickets, he smashed all the bowlers around and then we sent him to Kenya for the triangular series involving India A, Pakistan A and Kenya. MS scored about 600 runs and after that rest his history. So you need to give chances to a cricketer, who has something special in him, who looks like a match-winner. He had all the attributes. It was only a matter of time before all of them clicked together. We gambled on the right horse and it paid off. I gave credit to all of the members of that selection committee,” More said.