Former chief selector of the Indian cricket team Kiran More has shared a funny anecdote related to the selection of Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the Indian team. Dhoni came to the Indian team when More was the Chief Selector.
More said that he had to persuade the Indian team captain and current BCCI President Sourav Ganguly to give Dhoni a wicket-keeping opportunity against North Zone in the 2003-04 Duleep Trophy final. More wanted Dhoni to take over the responsibility in place of former former zone regular wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta.
More said that the Indian team desperately needed a wicket-keeper batsman who could come up to the middle order and score runs fast. The experience of playing Rahul Dravid as a wicketkeeper was a long stretch. At the same time, he saw Dhoni, who was scoring a lot of runs in domestic cricket.
More said, ‘We were looking for a wicket-keeper batsman. At that time the format of the game was changing and we needed a power hitter. A batsman who landed at number 6 or 7 and scored 40-50 runs quickly. Rahul Dravid had played 75 ODIs as a wicketkeeper. He also played in the 2003 World Cup. So we were in dire need of a wicketkeeper.
More said on Karisma Kotak and Curtly Ambrose’s show that it took him 10 days to convince Ganguly and Dasgupta to allow Dhoni to keep wickets in the final against North Zone that year as well.
More said, ‘My colleagues saw it for the first time, so I went to see them. I specifically went there. I saw that he scored 130 runs out of the team’s score of 170. He played amazing shots on everyone’s bowling. We wanted him to play as a wicketkeeper in the final. Then we had a lot of discussions with Saurabh Ganguly and Deep Dasgupta. So it took 10 days to convince Ganguly and his selector to ask Dasgupta not to keep keeping and Dhoni should get wicketkeeping opportunity.
Dhoni opened the innings in that match along with former Indian team batsman Shiv Sundar Das. He scored 21 runs in the first innings and 60 runs in 47 balls in the second innings. The team of North Zone had bowlers like Ashish Nehra, Amit Bhandari, Sarandeep Singh and Gagandeep Singh. Soon after, Dhoni was selected in a team for India tour of Kenya. There he became the highest run-scorer for India. And after this series he got selected in the Indian team.
More said, ‘Dhoni did the wicketkeeping. He hit all the bowlers and then he went on a tour of Kenya. Here in the Triangular Series, there were matches between India A, Pakistan A and Kenya. He scored around 600 runs and what happened after that is a part of history. So you have to give a chance to a cricketer who has something special. The one who looks like a match-winner. Dhoni had all these qualities. It was just a matter of time that it all clicked together. We bet on the right horse and it turned out to be profitable. I will give credit to all the members of the selection committee.