Former India captain and Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni had to bide his time to make his debut with the Indian national cricket team. But once he made his India debut at the age of 23 against Bangladesh in December 2004, there was no looking back for this legendary wicketkeeper-batsman.
Former India wicketkeeper and national selector Kiran More has now revealed how Dhoni became the first-choice wicketkeeper in Sourav Ganguly-led Indian team. Dhoni was already making waves in domestic cricket and India ‘A’ circuit heading into the 2003-04 season and Team India was looking for a replacement for Rahul Dravid as the part-time option.
“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 on the Curtly & Karishma Show with former West Indies pacer Curtly Ambrose and sports presenter Karishma Kotak.
More flew down to watch Dhoni in a game where the CSK skipper scored 130 while chasing a total of 170. Dhoni, who was playing for East Zone, was not getting a chance to keep wickets as Deep Dasgupta was the designated wicket-keeper of the side.
Former Indian wicketkeeper Dasgupta had already played for India and was ahead of Dhoni in the pecking order. However, More was convinced of Dhoni’s talent and it took him 10 days to convince Ganguly and the selectors to let Dhoni keep the wickets ahead of Dasgupta in the final against North Zone.
Dhoni played the final and did well against the likes of Ashish Nehra and others, who were part of the Indian team. He was then sent with the India ‘A’ side on the tour of Kenya where he impressed again and notched up 600 runs to be roped into the national side under Ganguly.
“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 finals as a wicket-keeper. 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,” More recalled.
“MS Dhoni kept wickets in that game, and he smashed everyone including Ashish Nehra from the North Zone. Then we sent him to Kenya for that India, Pakistan and Kenya triangular series and he scored about 600 runs there. After that, everything is history,” he added.