MS Dhoni got his big break in Indian cricket after then-captain Sourav Ganguly was convinced to let the Jharkhand wicketkeeper play in the 2004 Duleep Trophy final instead of Deep Dasgupta, the Bengal wicketkeeper who was also in the India team then, said former chief selector Kiran More.
Speaking about the 2004 match, where a 22-year-old Dhoni played for East Zone as wicketkeeper and opening batsman, More said on an episode of The Curtly and Karishma Show on YouTube: “We were looking for a wicket-keeper batsman. We were looking for a power-hitter, someone who can come at No.6 or 7 and get us quick 40-50 runs.”
More said he had gone to witness Dhoni playing after hearing about his big-hitting exploits from his colleagues. Upon seeing Dhoni score 130 runs out of his team’s total of 170 in one match, More went to India captain Ganguly to try and convince him to give a chance to Dhoni in the Duleep Trophy final.
“We wanted Dhoni to play in the final as a wicketkeeper. That’s when we had a lot of debate with Sourav Ganguly and Deep Dasgupta – who played for India then and who was from Calcutta. So, it took about ten days to convince Sourav and his selector to ask Deep Dasgupta to not keep wickets, and to let MS Dhoni keep wickets,” More recalled.
Dhoni scored 21 runs in the first innings of the final, opening with Shiv Sunder Das, before belting 60 off 47 in the second innings. Later that year, he would later travel with an India A squad for a triangular series in Kenya, also involving Pakistan A.
“Dhoni kept wickets, he smashed all the bowlers around and then we sent him to Kenya for the triangular series involving India A, Pakistan A and Kenya. MS scored about 600 runs and after that rest his history,” More said.
In December 2004, Dhoni made his international debut pipping the likes of Dasgupta and Dinesh Karthik.