File photo of MS Dhoni© Twitter
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s 15-year-long international career saw him rise through the ranks as an unorthodox wicket-keeper batsman to one of Indian cricket’s all-time greats. He’s the most successful captain the country has seen and a revered figure in international cricket as “Captain Cool.” Everyone has to start somewhere and former India cricketer Syed Saba Karim revealed one such instance in the commentary box, about the emergence of Dhoni, before his call-up to the national team. Karim recalled the first time he met Dhoni and how he became familiar with his skillsets after becoming a selector for Bihar in the Ranji Trophy.
“My story is very interesting. The first time I saw MS Dhoni, it 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. Even for wicket-keeping, the footwork that one should have was lacking a bit. We worked with him on this at that time, and he still remembered what he was taught then. When we used to chat, he used to speak about it. It was a turning point in MS’s career where he actually got going. In one-dayers, we started to let him open because his batting was so strong and he used to get quick runs,” said Saba Karim on JioCinema.
Karim then discussed Dhoni’s first series for India ‘A’ where his batting performances convinced the national team selectors to finally give him a chance. The rest, as they say, is history. “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 Pak ‘A’ twice and he batted so well in the series.”
He added, “From there it was a turning point in his career and after that, his name was in the reckoning. I even remember I was in Calcutta at that time, and Sourav (Ganguly) was the captain. I went to meet him and I told him there is this keeper who 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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