Story of how a young MS Dhoni was denied a chance for an early India debut
by Jatin Author
Published - Apr 4, 2016 7:59 am | Updated - Apr 4, 2016 7:59 am
MS Dhoni is known to have made a career out of adversities. He has led a life that has taken him from checking tickets for the South Eastern railways to becoming one of the richest sportspersons in India. His story is already been made into a biopic Bollywood movie, but here is one such story about how Dhoni was denied a chance to make his Duleep trophy debut by some top level bureaucracy and a broken Tata Sumo.
MS Dhoni made his Ranji Trophy debut for Bihar in 1999-2000 as an 18-year-old and made an immediate impact in his second season, playing a brilliant rearguard innings against Bengal in 2001. He scored his first first-class century, 114 in a match that Bihar managed to draw from a position of certain defeat.
His talents were noticed and he was immediately included in the Duleep Trophy team of East Zone. This was a great opportunity for young Dhoni, as he had made a splash in the big pond of talent and got noticed and most of the regular India players were supposed to play international cricket for India against a touring Australia side. India was also in the process of finding a new wicketkeeper who could bat nicely, in place of then regular Nayan Mongia and many keepers like MSK Prasad, Vijay Dahiya, and Sameer Dighe.
But this was the year 2001, before the time of Twitter and social media and the incumbent officials of the Bihar cricket association didn’t have many means or intention of giving this news of selection to MS Dhoni. By the time the news of selection reached Ranchi, it was too late and the East Zone team had already left to Agartala for the flight.
But MS Dhoni’s friend Paramjit Singh hired a Tata Sumo car after getting contribution from locals and along with Dhoni and couple of friends, including his future brother- in-law Gautam Gupta, started a race against time to help Dhoni reach the match with just 20 hours in hand.
Unfortunately, their journey came to a screeching halt, as the car developed some problems and Bengal keeper, Deep Dasgupta played for East Zone as a wicketkeeper against South Zone. One can say that Dasgupta was preferred over Dhoni since he had already played Tests for India by that time and officials knowingly didn’t want the message to reach Dhoni in time.
He couldn’t play that match, but went to Pune for the second match with the team and was included as a 12th man and Sachin Tendulkar who played for West Zone and scored a match winning 199*, had asked MS Dhoni for water, making it his first interaction with the batting great.
After this Dhoni got a job as ticket collector for the South Eastern Railways, but due to his cricketing commitments, was irregular at work and was served a notice by the railways. Fortunately, after 3 years, he was included in the India A side against Kenya and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands and was the Man of the series. And suddenly, the country came to know of a keeper that was a quick runner between wickets, was a good keeper and more importantly, could hit big shots, which went out of the ground.
Thanks to some backing by East Zone selector Pranab Roy, Dhoni managed to earn the India cap within a year of that Kenya series.