Former India batsman Gautam Gambhir has recalled what he felt when he saw MS Dhoni for the first time. Gambhir, who made his India debut a year before Dhoni did, revealed how he and the former skipper had been on different tours together as part of India A’s assignments, where the two bonded and got to know about each other and their game. It was early 2004, when Dhoni made a mark smashing two centuries and a fifty to be named Player of the Series and help India A win a triangular series in Kenya, featuring the host team and Pakistan A.
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“We went on an India A tour to Kenya and Zimbabwe. We played a triangular series against Pakistan A and Kenya. The way he was hitting the ball we all knew he was someone who could keep wicket and hit the ball that long and that far,” Gambhir said on the Cricket Connected Show on Star Sports.
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Dhoni made his international debut against Bangladesh in an ODI in 2004, where he was run out for a duck. However, from there Dhoni’s career took off and after making noises with the bat, the India wicketkeeper was given the responsibility to lead the national team. He established himself as India’s most successful captain winning all three ICC trophies – the 50-over World Cup (in 2011), the T20 World Cup (in 2007) and the Champions Trophy in 2013, along with taking India to the top of the ICC Test rankings for the first time in history – before finally walking away from international cricket on August 15, 2020.
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Gambhir was the top-scorer in both World Cup finals and was a heavy run-scorer en route to India’s rise to the pinnacle of the Test rankings. One of the most memorable partnership they were involved in came during the final of the 2011 Word Cup, where Dhoni and Gambhir added 109 runs for the fourth wicket. Gambhir recalled being awestruck watching Dhoni’s ability to hit towering sixes and how it was the beginning of a great success story.
“That was not normal for any Indian wicketkeeper to do because before that we had brilliant keepers, but never those hard-hitting players who could hit those 100-meter sixes. He was phenomenal and that’s the reason he’s achieved what he has,” Gambhir added.