Former India wicketkeeper and chairman of selectors Kiran More has said that it took him ten days to convince Sourav Ganguly to let Mahendra Singh Dhoni keep wickets for East Zone in the 2003-’04 Duleep Trophy final against North Zone.
Ganguly was the India captain at that time and his first-choice wicketkeeper for the East Zone team was Deep Dasgupta.
More, who was the head of the section committee back then, wanted to give Dhoni a chance because he was a ‘keeper who could get quick runs down the order, and that was something the Indian team needed too.
“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 Show’ hosted by former West Indies fast bowler Curly Ambrose and sports presenter Karishma Kotak.
More admitted it took a while for Ganguly to be convinced that Dhoni was someone worth looking at.
“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 said.
That Duleep Trophy final turned out to be crucial for Dhoni. He opened the batting for East Zone and got a brilliant 60 off 47 in the second innings. He was then picked for the tri-series against Kenya and earned his India cap soon after.
“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.
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