Former Indian captain MS Dhoni had to go through plenty of roadblocks on his way to the national team. As a youngster, Dhoni worked as a ticket collector at the Kharagpur Railway Station while also making his case in the domestic circuit for recognition. And in between, it was former chief selector Syed Kirmani, who gave the 38-year-old his first big break.
In MS Dhoni’s biopic, MS Dhoni – the untold story, it is revealed that the keeper-batsman announced himself on the big stage at the Deodhar Trophy by clobbering five sixes towards the selectors. The same year, Dhoni got his first international cap against Bangladesh in which he made a duck.
Three years later, Dhoni was put in charge of the Indian team. He responded by making the men in blue lift the inaugural edition of the World T20 and catapulting India to the top of the Test rankings. In the coming years, the national team lifted the World Cup in 2011 and the Champions Trophy in 2013.
He said to me ‘there is this keeper batsman from Jharkhand, who is a very promising youngster and deserves selection: Syed Kirmani on MS Dhoni
Meanwhile, Syed Kirmani, who was also a wicketkeeper during his playing days, said that MS Dhoni’s selection occurred for the East Zone merely seeing his consistency with the bat. Kirmani’s co-selector, Pranab Roy, suggested him of Dhoni, being an exceptionally promising cricketer from Jharkhand, who deserves selection. Dhoni’s batting statistics left Kirmani doubtless and picked him for the East Zone.
“I have never disclosed this before but here is how Dhoni was picked. I and Pranab Roy – my co-selector from East Zone – were watching a Ranji Trophy match. I’m not sure which match it was since it was a long time ago, but Pranab Roy is proof. He said to me ‘there is this keeper batsman from Jharkhand, who is a very promising youngster and deserves selection,” the 70-year-old Syed Kirmani said as quoted by Hindustan Times.
I asked him ‘is he keeping wickets in this match?’ Pranab said ‘no but he is fielding at fine leg.’ That is when I got Dhoni’s stats from the last two years to look into. And Wow! There was terrific consistency in his batting ability. Without even seeing him keep wickets, I suggested that Dhoni be selected for East Zone straightaway. And the rest is history,” he added.
Fast forward to the present; the 38-year old hasn’t played competitive cricket since the 2019 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, which India lost. Fans were hoping to catch him in action in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Chennai Super Kings, which also stands suspended indefinitely. So far, MS Dhoni has featured in 90 Tests, 350 ODIs, and 98 T20Is.