5 wicket-keepers MS Dhoni kept out of the Indian Team
There was once a time in Indian Cricket, and a long one, where the national team was struggling to get a good wicket-keeper who was also a reliable batsman to match the standards set by top cricketing nations of the world. The likes of Adam Gilchrist and Mark Boucher were ruling the roast of keeper-batsmen and had set high standards at the international level.
The problem for a genuine keeper started for India around the year 2000. After Nayan Mongia, who played Test Cricket for seven years and played his last international match in 2001, the selectors went in search for one.
From 1999 to 2002, in just the space of 4 years, India had played seven different wicket-keepers in their Test side and eight in their ODI in the Sourav Ganguly-era. None of them were able to cling on to their places in the side. The desperation of a good keeper-cum-batsman was so much that even the great Rahul Dravid had to keep wickets for the Indian Team in 73 ODIs from 1999 to 2004.
The Indian National team had an all-time great line up of batsmen in both formats, but the major cause of concern was the keeper's slot.
In 2002, the flare changed. Suddenly, the selectors had a number of young and talented keepers at their disposal who showed great signs of succeeding at the international level. The selectors started with a baby-faced 17-year-old, then another 19-year-old in 2004, both showing great promise only to be dropped for a loss of form. Finally, a 22-year-old long-haired player entered the arena and stamped a long-term authority on that position in the Indian Cricket Team across formats.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni started his career as yet another WK-batsman who amazed everyone at the domestic level. He was going to get dropped very very early from the international side after very few chances until destiny struck, and the face of Indian Cricket changed forever.
After a string of failures in his first 4 matches, Dhoni got a chance up the order, making an impact immediately. The muscular and broad Ranchi guy smashed his way to an amazing 148 against Pakistan in an ODI, and there was no looking back since.
He confirmed his first century wasn't a fluke either after he butchered the Sri Lankan attack in 2005 making 183* in Jaipur in a run chase of 300. The Sri Lankan attack was hit by an unmatched physical power and taken to the cleaners by someone who had announced his arrival at the international stage in grand style.
Dhoni became consistent with the bat and was always a good keeper, and in the coming months, he managed to play the role of 4 different players alone. Hard-Hitter, finisher, wicket-keeper, and most importantly, 'Captain Cool' of the Indian Cricket Team (since 2007).
He established himself as one of the best ODI batsmen in the world and a dangerous finisher, and after gaining success as the captain in the 2007 T20 World Cup and in Tests and ODIs in 2008, there was no chance for any other wicket-keeper to break throughin the team in any format, unless Dhoni was rested or injured.
The summit of Dhonis career was, undoubtedly, the night of the World Cup final on 2nd April 2011 at a blue-bleeding Wankhede stadium.
For the next decade and a half, he managed to sideline brilliant Indian keepers who could have been world-class batsmen. Dhoni's international legacy was legendary enough to keep the careers of five Indian players in the dark since 2004, till his Test retirement in 2014 and the frequent rest he is given in limited overs these days. S
Still an integral part of the side and an important player for India in the 2019 World Cup campaign in India, Dhoni has enjoyed a career which had everything, from 3 ICC Trophies as a captain to 10,000 runs in ODI Cricket, from the highest number of wins as an Indian Test Captain, to becoming the No.1 side in Tests and ODI formats.
The former Indian skipper also faced dark days and high criticism, especially after India underwent emphatic Test losses in overseas conditions, as well as with his loss of form over the past few months.
Here are the 5 highly unlucky Indian Wicket-Keepers who were born in the wrong era to get denied extensive careers, which can now be termed as 'what-could-have-been' for them.