Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly has been instrumental in the discovery of several Indian cricketers who turned out to be legends of the game.
From Yuvraj Singh to Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag to Zaheer Khan, Ganguly certainly had an eye for talent in need of match-winners in his side.
Similar was the case with swashbuckling wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni, who made a lasting impression on Ganguly on his debut 2004 Bangladesh tour.
Former Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) Team Director, Joy Bhattacharya, who has had a close tie with Dada, has narrated the incident when the ex-skipper was excited about Dhoni’s hitting abilities.
“I remember being on a flight to Bangladesh in 2004 and Sourav was just telling me ‘we have this chabuk new batsman’. ‘Chabuk’ means whipped. He said ‘chabuk new batsman’ who has come out. You have to see him, MS Dhoni is going to be a star,’” Joy told sports presenter Gaurav Kapoor on 22 yarns podcast of Oaktree Sports production.
“One thing he was just fantastic at was that he would just see you and he would know the talent. If you have the talent, he would back you. It didn’t mean that you could not get runs, you could fail, it didn’t matter to him. Because he knew on the day you had the ability to score,” Bhattacharya added.
After a torrid debut tour, Dhoni paid rich dividends for the faith entrusted on him in the subsequent 2005 ODI series against Pakistan, where he smashed 148 at Vizag.
“Look at Yuvraj, look at Sehwag. You know what he does to Sehwag. He turns around and says to him ‘look the middle order is too crowded. If you want to play for India, you have to open. There is me, Tendulkar, Laxman, Dravid… where are you going to get a chance? Yuvraj Singh did not get a chance for so many years because the middle order is crowded. Go and open’. And what happened was that Sehwag opened and the history was made,” Bhattacharya concluded.