When Kiran More Persuaded Ganguly to Give Young MS Dhoni a Shot
On More’s recommendation, Dhoni assumed the keeping duties ahead of Deep Dasgupta in 2003-04 Duleep Trophy final.
Former India chairman of selectors Kiran More, whose selection panel is often credited for spotting MS Dhoni, said he had a hard time convincing the then-India captain and current BCCI president Sourav Ganguly to let Dhoni keep wickets in a Duleep Trophy final in 2003-04 against North Zone, instead of the regular East Zone stumper Deep Dasgupta.
More said the hunt was on for a wicket-keeper who could up the ante in the middle order as the experiment with Rahul Dravid wasn’t paying the desired dividends and that’s when they singled out Dhoni, who was scoring a truckload of runs in the 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 recalled in a YouTube chat show The Curtly and Karishma hosted by former West Indies paceman Curtly Ambrose and sports presenter Karishma Kotak.
More said it took nearly 10 days of persuasion for the selectors to get Ganguly on the same page and Dasgupta to let Dhoni don the gloves in the finals against North Zone that year.
“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 reflected.
Dhoni opened the innings for East Zone in the summit clash with former India batsman Shiv Sunder Das. He could only manage 21 in the first innings but slammed a breath-taking 60 off 47 balls in the second essay against the North Zone attack comprising Ashish Nehra, Amit Bhandari, Sarandeep Singh and Gagandeep Singh. Soon after, the explosive dasher was picked for the tri-series in Kenya where he topped the run chart and subsequently earned his maiden call-up for India.
“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 observed.
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