Mahendra Singh Dhoni is undoubtedly one of India’s finest cricketers, apart from being the most successful captain. But it is a little known secret that the Ranchi player was primed for his role as an attacking batsman by another prolific captain, Sourav Ganguly back in 2005.
Fans will remember the two defining ODI knocks that Dhoni played in 2005 – the 148 against Pakistan and 183 against Sri Lanka. Both these were played when he was promoted to the No 3 position.
Virender Sehwag, ahead of the first Twenty20 International against Australia in Ranchi on Saturday, revealed that it was Ganguly who took the call to send Dhoni up the order early in his career.
“We were experimenting with the batting order at that time. We decided that if we get a good opening partnership then Sourav Ganguly would come at No 3 but if we had a bad opening stand then we would send pinch hitters like Irfan Pathan or Dhoni to accelerate the scoring rate. Ganguly at that time decided to give Dhoni a chance at No 3 for three or four matches,” Sehwag told India TV.
Interestingly, it was the second time Ganguly gave up his spot for a younger player. He had earlier given up his opener’s position to Sehwag himself.
“There are very few captains who would first give away his own batting spot for Virender Sehwag and then his set spot of No.3 for Dhoni. Had Dada not done that, Dhoni would not have become such a great player. Ganguly always believed in giving chances to new players,” the former explosive opener added.
Sehwag also mentioned Dravid’s role in honing the young Dhoni after taking over as captain from Ganguly in the same year.
“During Rahul Dravid’s captaincy, Dhoni got the role of a finisher. He got out a couple of times playing a bad shot and he was also reprimanded by Dravid during one instance. But from that instance, he completely changed his approach and became a very good finisher. The kind of partnerships he had with Yuvraj Singh are memorable,” Sehwag was quoted as saying.
These revelations by Sehwag show the full circle the Indian cricket team has come, with Dhoni as captain often changing batting order and giving younger players a chance to bat higher up.