Who spotted MSD as future captain?

The Rise of the Phoenix

The slide which started in April 2006 did not seem to stop anytime soon. Although it took a pause during the home series against the West Indies, where MSD scored a blistering 62 in a high-scoring match (first ODI) which India just edged by 14 runs on a Nagpur pitch which was a graveyard for the bowlers. (Ind. won the series 3-1). He had a couple of decent outings in the series against Sri Lankalanka where he also scored a match-winning half-century and along with Rahul Dravid, took India to victory after the Indians made a heavy weather of the target at the start. (Ind. won 2-1). But the nadir was the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean for India as well as Dhoni. India was being tipped as favouritefavorites for the tournament and on paper; the team was they were really looking invincible.like invincibles. But sadly the games are not played on paper. They played like paupers on the field and were humbled by the minnows Bangladesh in which ‘Mahi’ got a blob. Given the format of the tournament, India waswere suddenly in a ‘do-or-die’ situation and against Sri Lanka; they capitulated unexpectedly under pressure and lost by a whopping margin leading to their ouster from the competition. Dhoni really had a torrid time against Murali during his short stay at the wicket. Finally he was ‘put out off his misery’ when he couldn’t pick a doosra and was found plumb in front of the wicket. This ended little hopes India waswere harbouring of winning the match leaving Dravid stranded at the other end (Dravid’s face showed it all). The writing was on the wall as India meekly surrendered. This triggered a backlash at home where people burned the effigies of the players. At Ranchi the fans went a step ahead. They not only burnt Dhoni’s effigies but also mobbed into his under-construction house and tore down the walls and pillars. The fans went a step too far for my money. Come on, it’s a sport not a war. This is the kind of extremism, which is seen in India, which I find it hard to understand. Whenever the team performs well the ‘so-called’ fans worship our cricketers like God. The Greg Chappell era was the most turbulent period in Indian Cricket, which I am sure our very own Dada would never like to be reminded of. But Indian Cricket should be thankful to Greg as he was the one who had earmarked Dhoni as the future Captain. Greg was done away with, but his suggestion was taken seriously and Dhoni was made the captain for the T-20 WC which was going to be held in SA. The seniors had backed out of the tournament as T-20 was first thought to be a youngster’s game. This was the first litmus test for Dhoni as a Captain and it was also the dawn of the new era…

Excerpts from Book ‘Being MSD ‘ by Pratik Deshpande