MS Dhoni announced himself to the world hitting 148 against Pakistan and then a record unbeaten 183 against Sri Lanka in 2005 that branded him as an aggressive, fearless batter. He, however, soon moderated his approach according to the team’s need, and transformed his image from a big-hitter to a finisher. This change, however, was not natural, and instead a result of a scolding by the then-India captain Rahul Dravid.
This claim has been made by another the legendary Virender Sehwag, a teammate of Dravid and Dhoni. Sehwag, known for his free-spirited batting style, says Dravid once reprimanded Dhoni for getting out on a bad shot early on in his career.
The Ranchi-born wicketkeeper-batter was asked to take more responsibility, and the same was visible in his batting when he took on the mantle of captaincy from Dravid after the 2007 ODI World Cup.
“He was given the finisher’s role under Dravid, who once scolded him for getting out after playing a bad shot. I think that incident changed him. So around 2006-07, he transformed and started taking responsibility of finishing matches,” Sehwag told India TV.
Sehwag also recalled how the change in Dhoni’s approach led him to star in 16 straight successful chases for India alongside Yuvraj Singh. Fans still remember how the duo stayed on the crease in the final of ODI World Cup 2011 against Sri Lanka and ended India’s 28-year-old wait for the title.
While Dravid’s advice made Dhoni a more responsible batter, Sehwag also credits Sourav Ganguly for sacrificing his no 3 slot for Dhoni in his early days.
Interestingly, Ganguly had also given his opening spot to Sehwag, following which the latter became one of the most feared openers in the history.
Sehwag said Dhoni got the no 3 position when Ganguly was experimenting with pinch-hitters. According to the 43-year-old, the current BCCI president thought of giving three-four chances to Dhoni and then going to someone else if it didn’t work out.
Dhoni, however, took the opportunity with both hands as he displayed his aggressive side against Pakistan in Visakhapatnam in 2005 when he blazed away to 148 runs off just 123 deliveries. He cemented his position in the side with one of his memorable innings of 183 against Sri Lanka in Jaipur while chasing a target of 299 later that year.