'It took 10 days to convince Ganguly to let Dhoni keep wickets': Ex-chief selector recalls 2003-04 Duleep Trophy story
- Kiran More says it took about 10 days for the selectors to convince Sourav Ganguly and wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta to let MS Dhoni keep in the final of the Duleep Trophy against North Zone in the 2003-04 season.
Former India chairman of selectors Kiran More, whose selection committee is often credited for spotting MS Dhoni, said he had to convince 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 keeper Deep Dasgupta.
More said India were desperately searching for a wicketkeeper who could give quick runs in the middle order as the experiment with Rahul Dravid had already gone on for far too long for comfort and that’s when they spotted Dhoni, who was scoring a lot 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 said in a YouTube show called The Curtly and Karishma hosted by former West Indies fast bowler Curly Ambrose and sports presenter Karishma Kotak.
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More said it took about 10 days for the selectors to convince Ganguly and Dasgupta to let Dhoni keep even 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 said.
Dhoni had actually opened in that match for East Zone with former India batsman Shiv Sunder Das. He scored 21 in the first innings but played a breath-taking knock of 60 off 47 balls in the second innings against a North Zone attack comprising Ashish Nehra, Amit Bhandari, Sarandeep Singh and Gagandeep Singh. Soon after, Dhoni was selected for the tri-series in Kenya where he emerged as the highest run-scorer 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 said.