New Delhi: Former India captain and Bengal cricket president Sourav Ganguly is the reason behind shaping the careers of Virender Sehwag and Dhoni. Ganguly believed in giving chances to youngsters and he even gave up his batting position at times to fit in a player.
Ganguly revealed how he identified Sehwag’s potential as an opening batsman. Sehwag before coming to the Indian team in 2001 used to play in the middle order for his Delhi Ranji side.
But it was Ganguly who promoted Sehwag to open the innings in both Tests and ODIs and the rest is history. Sehwag was the first Indian to smash a triple century in Test cricket and not once but twice.
In an interview, Ganguly revealed the entire story of how he once insisted on getting Sehwag picked in the team for an away tour.
“Like when Viru opened. During selection, people asked why are you taking for an away tour. He won’t manage bouncers. They’ll hit him in the head with bouncers.
“And I replied: ‘You are judging him without even seeing him play or giving him an opportunity’. Then he ended up scoring a century on his debut in South Africa. After that, we did not have a position for him in the middle order, so one day I told him…Viru, no one made a career by sitting on the bench. Why don’t you open? And opening is not a skill anyone is born with. If Hayden and Langer could do it, so can you..
“Viru told me he had never opened and batted only at 5 or 6 for Delhi. ‘What if I get out?’ I told him you can get out even in the middle order. And I batted down the order so that I could have him in my team. And then he opened in England and scored a century…
“He is a little mad and keeps telling me you never played me in the middle order. I told him ‘you would not have been half the player with that kind of impact and match-winning ability…that would not have come by playing in the middle order,” Ganguly said.
Dhoni made his ODI debut in 2004 under Ganguly’s captaincy. After a few poor performances, Dhoni was promoted to bat at No.3 and he proved his worth with a thunderous 148 against Pakistan and then a few months later blasted his way to 183 against Sri Lanka.
Dada said “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.
“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.
“That is how you players are made,” Ganguly added.
Ganguly also said that seeing Dhoni play for so long makes him feel happy because both of them are from a part of India where not much cricket was played those days.
Ganguly has also said that he has a lot of hopes from Virat Kohli as India look to win their first Test series in England since 2007.