One of the greatest qualities of Sourav Ganguly was the manner in which he backed youngsters like Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, MS Dhoni and how he gave them a proper exposure to thrive at the top level.
Whether it was fighting with his selectors to get Harbhajan Singh in the side for the historic 2001 Test series against Australia or asking Virender Sehwag to open the batting in Test match cricket or for that matter, promoting a raw Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the No.3 spot in an ODI game against Pakistan in Vizag back in 2005.
Ganguly was always clear in this mindset. He knew one can’t become a big player if he keeps batting down the order. The former Indian captain and the current President of the BCCI was recently asked what prompted him to slot in MS Dhoni at the N0.3 spot. Ganguly replied by saying that even the legendary Sachin Tendulkar wouldn’t have become what he eventually became if he continued batting lower down the order.
“He (Dhoni) got the opportunity to bat at No.3 in Vizag, scored a superb hundred and whenever he has got a chance to play more overs, he has scored big. (Sachin) Tendulkar wouldn’t have become Tendulkar if he kept batting at No.6 because you get a handful of balls to play,” Sourav Ganguly told Sportstak.
‘A player is made when you send him up the order’- Sourav Ganguly on promoting MS Dhoni to No.3 against Pakistan in 2005
MS Dhoni made his debut against Bangladesh in late 2004 and even though he did not have a fruitful outing, his exploits in the subsequent Challenger Trophy, where he scored a blistering hundred while opening the innings, was enough to convince Ganguly of the Ranchi cricketer’s exploits.
“There was Challenger Trophy, he was scored a hundred for my team while opening the batting, so I knew it. A player is made when you send him up the order, you can’t make a player by playing him lower down the order. I always believe you can’t become a big cricketer by sitting inside the dressing room. The Kind of abilities, especially the six-hitting prowess he had, was rare. He changed his towards the end of his career but when the raw MS Dhoni arrived, it was very important to make him free,” Ganguly added.
Ganguly’s move proved to be a masterstroke as MS Dhoni announced himself on the world stage with a blistering 123-ball 148. The rest, as they say, is history.