Dravid and Tendulkar clinched captaincy for MSD

The BCCI’s senior national selection committee with Dilip Vengsarkar as chairman officially announced the 26-year-old from Jharkhand as captain for the seven-match series against Australia in 2007, but only after the then BCCI president Sharad Pawar ascertained the views of Dravid and Tendulkar on the day the Indian Premier League (IPL) was unveiled at the Taj Palace, New Delhi in 2007.

Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid played a big role in Dhoni's elevation as skipper.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

Two of India’s greatest cricketers — Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid — played their part in the appointment of M.S. Dhoni as captain of the Indian team for the One-Day Internationals in 2007.

The BCCI’s senior national selection committee with Dilip Vengsarkar as chairman officially announced the 26-year-old from Jharkhand as captain for the seven-match series against Australia, but only after the then BCCI president Sharad Pawar ascertained the views of Dravid and Tendulkar on the day the Indian Premier League (IPL) was unveiled at the Taj Palace, New Delhi in 2007.

It was on the same day Dravid — after the three-Test series in England — took the decision to relinquish captaincy and conveyed the same to Pawar. And when asked by the BCCI chief to name the player who should lead India, Dravid, according to sources, suggested Dhoni’s name without any hesitation.

At the IPL-launch dinner, Pawar got the same answer from Tendulkar. “The two players were asked at a different time and the response was the same,” said a BCCI official privy to this development.

With Tendulkar, Dravid and Sourav Ganguly expressing their unwillingness to play in the inaugural ICC Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007, Dhoni was named the captain.

What impressed Tendulkar in naming Dhoni as captain? Sources say Tendulkar told the BCCI president: “I have seen him from close quarters fielding at slip; I have chatted with him a lot and he is a thinker and a cool person.”

There was not even a debate thereafter; Dhoni became captain for the ODI series against Australia.

The selectors though announced Anil Kumble as captain for the three-Test home series against Pakistan, the away series in Australia. And in April 2008, Dhoni led India for the first time in a Test match against South Africa in Kanpur.

Bold decision

One of the bold decisions that Dhoni took was in the final of the Commonwealth Bank tri-series in 2008, when he dropped Virender Sehwag (he had played five league games) for the finals played in Sydney and Brisbane. Dhoni opted for Rohit Sharma.

Dhoni took a captaincy gamble perhaps going ahead of Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh in the World Cup final at the Wankhede. He returned to the dressing room finishing the task by scoring an unbeaten 79-ball 91.

Another feature of Dhoni’s captaincy is that he doesn’t believe in spending too much time in the dressing room before a Twenty20 match; that’s the practice he followed when playing IPL matches in Mumbai, Pune and elsewhere.

Dhoni spent the first four days of the New Year in Nagpur with the Jharkhand team. He played football, took part in the team’s exercises, conducted his own fitness runs, had a good hit at net sessions and used the VCA gymnasium for work-outs. He went through the routines on Wednesday, not hinting at what he was going to do later in the day.

During the customary exchanges post match, Gujarat’s Samit Gohil, shook hands with Dhoni and doffed his cap and a few minutes later Dhoni became a former India captain. He conveyed his decision to the chairman of the senior national selection committee M.S.K. Prasad and then sent a letter to the BCCI.

Dhoni’s 199 as captain in ODIs is third after Ricky Ponting’s 230 and Stephen Fleming’s 218.

Surely Dravid and Tendulkar would be proud of the achievements of the man they proposed as India’s captain.