8 Decisions by Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni that changed Indian cricket

If you talk about the past 20 years, the likes of Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni have been the torchbearers of whirlwind change in Indian cricket.

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MS Dhoni World Cup six
MS Dhoni. (Photo credit INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

Indian cricket, over the years, has been blessed with a plethora of brilliant captains. From Tiger Pataudi to Ajit Wadekar to Kapil Dev to Mohammad Azharuddin to the current era of leaders in Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble to MS Dhoni and now Virat Kohli, everyone has had their fair share of contributions in nurturing Indian cricket and taking it the highest pedestal of world cricket.

If you talk about the past 20 years, the likes of Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni have been the torchbearers of whirlwind change in Indian cricket. While Ganguly took India out of the mess that was the 2000 match-fixing scandal and rebuilt the team in the early years of the 21st century, MS Dhoni helped India break their final hoodoo and finally lay claim to the silverware- something that had alluded them for a long time.

But, this article isn’t about that. It is about the tactical and selectional changes that these two great leaders made, something which proved to be masterstrokes in the long run.

Here’s a look:

1. Ganguly Promoting Virender Sehwag to the opening slot in Test cricket and giving Dhoni a chance to bat higher in the order

Virender Sehwag
Indian batsman Virender Sehwag (L) celebrates his century as Pakistani pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar (R) walks past. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

In the early 2000s, the Indian Test team was on a lookout for an opener, who could provide them with an ideal launchpad for the shenanigans of their famed middle-order to take over. Besides that, they were also grappling with how to adjust Virender Sehwag in the line-up.

Sehwag had scored a whirlwind hundred in his debut Test in Bloemfontein but with the middle-order packed to the rafters, the ‘Nawab of Najafgarh’ had to warm the bench in the 2002 tour of the Caribbean. But, Ganguly knew the value that Sehwag brought to the Test side, and with the England tour looming, he made up his mind to take on a punt by slotting him at the top of the order.

It is important to remember here that Sehwag was primarily a middle-order batsman and had never opened for his domestic side, and was naturally apprehensive of doing the same in Test cricket. But, Ganguly- a visionary leader that he was- assured Sehwag that even if he fails in the top-order, he wouldn’t get dropped from the side

Viru told me he had never opened and batted only at 5 or 6 for Delhi. ‘What if I get out?’ I told him you can get out even in the middle order. And I batted down the order so that I could have him in my team. And then he opened in England and scored a century…” Ganguly revealed in Breakfast for Champions back in 2018.

Sehwag smashed a whirlwind 96-ball 84 in his very first innings as an opener at the Lord’s and backed it up with a hundred in the next Test in Nottingham, and, the rest, as they say, is history. 

Four years later, Ganguly did the same with MS Dhoni when he promoted him to the No.3 spot in an ODI against Pakistan. And, you know what happened after that.

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