Date: 6 April, 2005. The newspapers report: A star is born. A day before, on 5 April in Visakhapatnam, against Pakistan, after struggling to get going in international cricket, MS Dhoni justified his captain Sourav Ganguly's faith in him, but more importantly, justified his own talent. Fans did not really cheer Dhoni's arrival at the crease after Little Master Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed first and to everyone's surprise, the Jharkhand batsman was promoted to number three. As a result, not many knew what was coming their way. This was, in fact a time, when the then swashbuckling youngster made a name for himself playing for India A.
His last few performances were not too heartening. This match was as important as it was for Indian team which was looking for a solid wicket-keeping all-rounder.
With just 32 runs under his belt in five matches, Dhoni was in company of iceman Virender Sehwag. Sehwag was in form of his life, scoring runs at will and that helped Dhoni ease out a little. To his liking, the track was a belter and soon he joined the party with a lovely off drive off Mohammad Sami. The runs started coming thick and fast for him.
Shahid Afridi almost got him LBW a couple of overs later, but the decision did go Pakistan's way. Next Afridi ball, was lofted inside out for four to deep extra cover. Afridi lost his cool and hurled some words at Dhoni, who showed his first signs of a calm demeanour, returning the heat with an icy-cool smile. But Dhoni was not going to hold himself back, the next delivery was smacked over deep extra cover for a maximum. That over was, in a way, a turning point in his career, giving him the much needed confidence to do what he had been doing in domestic cricket and on A tours- demolish the bowlers. What followed was 15 fours and 4 sixes, as Dhoni got 148 before departing. His first international century came in his sixth game and saved him from getting dropped from the next match or the next tour.
Who knows what would have happened had Dhoni failed as the experiment, batting at No 3, 15 years ago? Had that been the case, the world cricket would have perhaps never seen one of the greatest finishers of all time and subsequently a marvellous captain.
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