Former India cricketer and chairman of selectors Kiran More had to convince former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who's now BCCI's president, to let MS Dhoni be the wicket-keeper in the Duleep Trophy final in 2003-04 against North Zone. Deep Dasgupta used to be the regular wicket-keeper of East Zone in those times.
More said Dhoni fit right into their requirements for a wicket-keeper batsman. They needed a wicket-keeper who could add quick runs in the middle-order for Team India.
“We were looking for a wicket-keeper batsman. At that time the format was changing and we were looking for a power-hitter, someone who can come at No.6 or 7 and get us quick 40-50 runs. Rahul Dravid played 75 ODI matches as a wicket-keeper and he played the 2003 World Cup as well. So, we were desperate for a wicket-keeper,” More said in a YouTube show called The Curtly and Karishma show.
The 58-year-old said it took 10 days for the selectors to convince Ganguly and Dasgupta to let Dhoni be the wicket-keeper in the final match against North Zone. More had his eyes on Dhoni after watching him bat and ripping apart every bowler for fun.
“My colleague saw him first, then I went and saw him. I especially flew down and saw him get 130 runs out of the team’s total of 170. He smashed everyone. We wanted him to play in the finals as a wicket-keeper. That’s when we had a lot of debate with Sourav Ganguly and Deep Dasgupta – who played for India then and who was from Calcutta. So, it took about ten days to convince Sourav and his selector to ask Deep Dasgupta to not keep wickets, and to let MS Dhoni keep wickets,” he said.
Dhoni had opened the innings for East Zone in the final match with former India batsman Shiv Sunder Das. He scored 21 runs in the first innings, followed by a 47-ball 60 in the second innings which included 8 fours and a six. In the first innings, Joginder Sharma got him out, while in the second innings Gagandeep Singh got him caught by Yuvraj Singh.
The Jharkhand cricketer was then selected for the triangular series in Kenya, which included the host nation, India A and Pakistan A. He was the top scorer in the tournament.
“Dhoni kept wickets, he smashed all the bowlers around, and then we sent him to Kenya for the triangular series involving India A, Pakistan A, and Kenya. MS scored about 600 runs and after that rest his history. So you need to give chances to a cricketer, who has something special in him, who looks like a match-winner. He had all the attributes. It was only a matter of time before all of them clicked together. We gambled on the right horse and it paid off. I gave credit to all of the members of that selection committee,” More said.