Former BCCI President N Srinivasan has revealed that MS Dhoni was in line to get sacked as the ODI captain just months after the 2011 World Cup, and he leveraged his power as the President to protect Dhoni’s captaincy. Srinivasan expressed his relief in such a scenario not coming to fruition.
The highs of the 2011 World Cup were crushed in no time as India, months post the 2011 WC triumph, were whitewashed 8-0 in back-to-back overseas Test tours against England and Australia. The Australia tour, in particular, which India lost 4-0, was a major disaster, as it saw heads roll, with the series turning out to be the last ever for both VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid. The unfavourable results led to a lot of backlash amongst fans, who held the then-skipper MS Dhoni responsible for the debacle that brought Indian cricket to a stunning low just months post the World Cup win.
Eventually, Dhoni’s position as captain remained unscathed, but, in what has come as a stunning revelation, former BCCI President N Srinivasan has claimed that he was the only force that stopped selectors from axing Dhoni as the ODI skipper. Srinivasan revealed that the selectors were planning to remove Dhoni as ODI skipper for the tri-series post India’s 4-0 whitewash at the hands of the Aussies and it was he who leveraged his power as BCCI President to stop the axe from inevitably falling on the wicket-keeper’s captaincy.
“This was 2011. India had won the World Cup. And (then) in Australia, we didn’t do well in the Tests. So, one of the selectors wanted to remove him (Dhoni) as the ODI captain. The point is, how do you remove him as the ODI captain? He had won the World Cup (just a few months ago). They (selectors) had not even thought of who would be his replacement. There was a discussion and then (before the formal meeting) I said there was no way in which he would not be a player," Srinivasan told the Indian Express.
“In fact, it was a holiday. I was playing golf. I came back. Sanjay Jagdale was the (BCCI) secretary at that time and he said, ‘Sir, they (selectors) are refusing to choose the captain. They will take him (Dhoni) in the team’. I came and said MS Dhoni (would be the captain). I exercised all my authority as the (BCCI) president."
That turned out to be an important decision in the history of Indian cricket as less than two years later, Dhoni led India to the 2013 Champions Trophy title, thereby becoming the first skipper in the history of the game to win all three major ICC tournaments. Reflecting on his decision, Srinivasan said that he was glad he stood his ground and backed MSD, and further expressed his admiration for Dhoni the person.
“See, there was apparently some prejudice somewhere, which reflected. He (Dhoni) has won the World Cup for you. After 1983, India won it again and you say, ‘I don’t want him to be the ODI captain’! Left to them (selectors), they might have (dropped him as a player). I don’t know. I think that was the most unfair (move) and I am glad that I stood my ground.”
“Mahendra Singh Dhoni is an exceptional person, exceptional cricketer and a very, very fair person. I have had the privilege of knowing him, moving with him for over a decade. I have in my lifetime met and seen great cricketers, people who had great cricketing skills. MS is an exception. He only thought of India and the team he played for.”
Srinivasan served as the President of the BCCI for two and a half years, between September 2011 and March 2014, before the IPL betting scandal brought an abrupt end to his tenure.