“Ganguly hadn’t seen Dhoni’s Game before we toured Pakistan…”: Former BCCI Selector Reveals How MS Dhoni Entered In The Team

MS Dhoni, the former Indian captain, remains one of the most enigmatic and impactful figures in the history of cricket. While his on-field brilliance has stunned fans, his off-the-field persona adds an air of mystery to his already storied career.

Hailing from Ranchi, Dhoni’s cricketing journey began with him watching his heroes on TV during the 2003 World Cup. Little did he know that he would lead those players to victory in the inaugural T20 World Cup four years later. His rise from being a fan to a celebrated captain is a testament to his determination and talent.

Syed Saba Karim, former India keeper-batter and selector for Bihar in the Ranji Trophy, revealed a crucial turning point in Dhoni’s career. Despite having the power to hit big shots, Dhoni’s wicket-keeping skills needed work. Under Karim’s guidance, Dhoni honed his footwork, a moment that he still remembers and cherishes. This transformational phase laid the foundation for Dhoni’s future success.

“The first time I saw MS Dhoni was his second year in the Ranji Trophy. He used to play for Bihar. I saw him batting and keeping, and I still remember while he was batting, he had that brilliance which we even saw later, playing big lofted shots to a spinner or a pace bowler.

For wicket-keeping, the footwork that one should have was lacking a bit. We worked with him on this then, and MS Dhoni’s greatness lies in that he still remembered what he was taught then. When we would chat, he’d speak about it. It was a turning point in MS’ career where he got going. In one-dayers, we started to let him open because his batting was so strong, and he used to get quick runs,” Karim said on Jio Cinema.

Dhoni’s path to the Indian side was fast-tracked by his impressive performance in a tri-series involving Pakistan A and Kenya A in 2004. His sparkling centuries convinced the selectors that he belonged at the international level. Sourav Ganguly, the then-captain, recalled a conversation with Karim, endorsing Dhoni’s selection based on his explosive batting and reliable wicket-keeping.

Karim added, “The second turning point was the tri-series in Kenya between India ‘A,’ Pakistan’ A,’ and Kenya. MS Dhoni got an opportunity to play because Dinesh Karthik was joining the national team. There, MS kept the wickets well, and for batting, don’t even ask! We played against Pakistan ‘A’ twice, and he batted so well in the series.”

“From there, it was a turning point in his career, and after that, his name was in the reckoning. I remember being in Calcutta then, and Sourav (Ganguly) was the captain. I met him and told him this keeper should come into the Indian team because he was batting so well and was such a safe keeper. Unfortunately, Sourav hadn’t seen MS play just before we toured Pakistan, and he wasn’t selected for that tour. But he was after that.”

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Dhoni’s debut on the Bangladesh tour in December 2004 was unremarkable, but it was just the beginning. His breathtaking knock of 148 off 123 balls against Pakistan in Visakhapatnam made the world take notice. Promoted to bat at No.3, Dhoni’s sensational strokeplay validated Ganguly’s faith in him, setting the stage for an illustrious career.

Dhoni’s rise as a legendary captain is unparalleled. Leading India to ICC trophies in 2007 (T20 World Cup), 2011 (50-over World Cup), and 2013 (Champions Trophy), he etched his name in cricketing history. His calm and composed demeanor on the field and astute decision-making were instrumental in shaping India into a dominant force in world cricket.

Dhoni retired from international cricket in 2020, leaving a legacy of over 17,000 international runs and multiple ICC titles. His contributions to Indian cricket have been immense, and his impact is felt both on and off the field. While the biopic MS Dhoni: The Untold Story sheds light on some aspects of his life, the mystery surrounding Dhoni’s persona and cricketing journey continues to captivate cricket enthusiasts worldwide.

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