Recalling the journey of MS Dhoni to his true potential, former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly has shed light on how he had promoted Dhoni up the order back in 2005. On April 5, 2005, Mahendra Singh Dhoni officially announced himself with a masterclass against arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2nd One Day International of the six-match series in Vizag.
Dhoni’s international debut and the next three games after that were catastrophic. After getting run out for 0 on debut against Bangladesh, Dhoni managed 12, 7 not-out and 3 in his next three ODIs in which he came in to bat at No. 7, along being a wicket-keeper.
But Sourav Ganguly, who is known to have a knack for recognising talent, decided to promote Dhoni to bat at No.3 position following which the Ranchi rookie tormented the Pakistani attack and slammed his maiden century at Vizag.
“When Dhoni came into the side in 2004, he played at No.7 in the first two matches. We went to Vizag (vs Pakistan) I was watching the news and wondering how could make a player out of Dhoni. He had great potential,” Ganguly said.
He added, “The next day in the morning, we did our warm-ups, did the toss, won it and decided to bat. While coming back I decided I will send him up the order. We’ll see what the result is. He was sitting in shorts because he knew he would bat at No.7. I told him to go up at No.3 and he asked ‘what about you?’ I said ‘I will bat at No.4’. And he went and scored 148".
India had taken a 1-0 lead and the stage was set for the 2nd ODI of the six-match ODI series between arch-rivals India and Pakistan. Winning the toss, the then Captain Sourav Ganguly won the toss ad decided to bat first. Sehwag had scored a century in Kochi and was on overdrive from the get-go in Vizag as well.
However, the men in blue suffered an early setback after with Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar lost his wicket in the fourth over. Everyone had expected captain Sourav Ganguly to join Sehwag in the middle, but MS Dhoni emerged from the pavilion. The decision to promote Dhoni came as a surprise to everyone because of two reasons as Ganguly’s record at the No.3 slot- the Indian captain had soared up to 1356 runs in 30 innings.
After the dismissal of Sehwag, Dhoni had 149-run-stand with Rahul Dravid to help India post a comprehensive total of 356/9. In reply, Pakistan got folded for 298 in 44.1 overs and lost the game by a handsome margin. For his genius betting display, Dhoni was awarded the Man of the Match.