Mahendra Singh Dhoni went on to become one of the best finishers in the game but on his 39th birthday, former India captain Sourav Ganguly wondered if the World Cup-winning skipper would have been even more lethal if he batted higher in the order through his career.
Ganguly, the current BCCI president, was the one who was responsbile for introducing Dhoni to international cricket when he was the Indian captain.
“It was fantastic. If you look over a period of time in the history of one-day cricket, the best players can find the fence under pressure consistently. MS Dhoni was one of them and that’s why he was special.”
Asked whether it was him who picked Dhoni in the team, Ganguly said: “Ya that’s true, but that’s my job isn’t it? That’s every captain’s job to pick the best and make the best team possible.
“You go by your instincts, you go by the faith on that player that he’ll deliver for you. And, you know, I’m happy that Indian cricket got a Mahendra Singh Dhoni, because he’s unbelievable,” Ganguly said.
The wicketkeeper-batsman, who led India to the World T20 title in 2007 and the ODI World Cup title in 2011, has a phenomenal record in international cricket. He has played 90 Tests, 350 ODIs and 98 T20Is in his career, having scored 4876, 10773 and 1617 runs respectively across the three formats. Along with this, he has also taken 634 catches and done 195 stumpings for Team India.
In the Indian Premier League, Dhoni has been one of the most successful captains over the years. He has led the Chennai Super Kings to three titles and wowed audiences with his brilliant skills and tactics.
“He’s one of the great players of the world cricket, not just a finisher. Everyone talks about the way he finishes lower down the order. I always believed that he should bat up the order because he was so destructive,” Ganguly said in a chat show hosted by India opener Mayank Agarwal for bcci.tv.
Ganguly, who had handed Dhoni his international debut against Bangladesh on December 23, 2004, recalled how he rose to fame with his 148 against Pakistan batting at number three.
Dhoni was last seen in action about a year ago when he was run-out for 50 by a brilliant Martin Guptill throw that eventually ended India’s campaign at the 2019 World Cup. He was set to make a much awaited comeback with the 2020 IPL in March but the event has been postponed indefinitely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most of Dhoni’s India and IPL teammates, including Virat Kohli, paid glowing tributes to him on his birthday.
The International Cricket Council posted a video from the 2019 World Cup where Kohli, among others, said he immensely benefited from the “special partnership” with Dhoni.
“He just enjoys every minute of being on field and our understandings been brilliant over the years because when I walked into the team the reason why he gave me chances because he believed that I played the right intention and I’ll do anything for the team together,” Kohli said.
“That’s why the partnership is so special and even off the field he understands me fully I understand him completely. And I’m always up for listening to his advice on the field and it helps immensely to have someone of experience around. He is always going to be my captain in my head,” said the India skipper.