It was an August afternoon in 2007. India’s national selectors had to brainstorm to make a perfect choice for Rahul Dravid’s successor. While Anil Kumble was roped in as skipper for the longer format, India needed a young and energetic leader for the first-ever World T20 in South Africa.
It was walking into the unknown — a format that still looked alien in most parts of the world. But the selection committee headed by former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar took a bold decision that had raised quite a few eyebrows back then — they made Mahendra Singh Dhoni the captain for the World T20 tournament.
Dhoni hadn’t even led his state team before that. But what impressed Vengsarkar, the then chairman of the panel, was his approach to the game and his cool demeanour.
Cut to August 15, 2020.
As Dhoni walked into retirement, it was an emotional moment for Vengsarkar. Having witnessed the journey of Dhoni-the captain closely, he feels that his “impeccable behaviour on and off the field” made him stand out.
As the T20 World Cup in 2020 was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was no limited-overs cricket for the Indian team this year. And Vengsarkar believes that could be one of the reasons behind Dhoni’s retirement.
“There was a huge gap because of the pandemic. There was no (international) cricket at all, possibly that’s one of the reasons he may have thought about retirement,” he said. “But then, it’s up to the individual. Everyone knows when the time is up and they call it a day…”
Walking down the memory lane, Vengsarkar admits that back then, he did not think how far Dhoni would go as a captain. “When you pick a captain or anyone in the team, you pick him because of a conviction and instinct that he would deliver. But then nobody knows how far one would go. That’s up to the individual,” Vengsarkar said.
But the way Dhoni handled the team and the seniors was exemplary indeed.
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