During the early 2000s, Indian cricket was in dire need of an explosive wicketkeeper-batsman in the heavy-duty lineup —someone who could be modelled along the lines of Adam Gilchrist of Australia. Eventually, in the 2004 Bangladesh tour, India found a star in MS Dhoni.
The story of his national selection is detailed cinematically in his biopic ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’. In the movie, Dhoni is seen hitting sixes towards the selectors, which forced the latter to give him the nod for the national team.
Now, the then Chairman of Selectors, Syed Kirmani, has opened up on a never-heard-before tale regarding his selection in the Indian team,
“I have never disclosed this before, but here is how Dhoni was picked. I and Pranab Roy – my co-selector from the East Zone – were watching a Ranji Trophy match. I’m not sure which match it was since it was a long time ago, but Pranab Roy is proof. He said to me ‘there is this keeper batsman from Jharkhand, who is a very promising youngster and deserves selection’,” Kirmani told Hindustan Times.
“I asked him ‘is he keeping wickets in this match?’ Pranab said ‘no, but he is fielding at fine leg.’ That is when I got Dhoni’s stats from the last two years to look into. And Wow! There was terrific consistency in his batting ability. Without even seeing him keep wickets, I suggested that Dhoni be selected for East Zone straightaway. And the rest is history,” added Kirmani.
After a disastrous ODI series against Bangladesh, Dhoni found his feet at the international level, in the subsequent series against Pakistan.
Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly during his interview with Gaurav Kapur in ‘Breakfast with Champions’, described his role in making Dhoni as a quality international player.
Ganguly surprised one and all, including Dhoni, by promoting him up the order in the ODI at Vizag. Subsequently, batting at number three, Dhoni slammed his maiden ODI ton against Pakistan, scoring 148.