Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni's on-field sportsmanship was conspicuous in their playing days. The best manifestation was perhaps the 2011 World Cup final, during which the duo strung together a crucial 109-run partnership.
Behind that partnership was their years-long friendship, which began on their tours with the India 'A' team.
Gautam Gambhir talked about the first of these tours and stated it was the first time he saw MS Dhoni bat. In a triangular series in Kenya, involving the hosts and Pakistan 'A', MS Dhoni smashed two centuries and a fifty to be named Player of the Series.
Gautam Gambhir instantly noticed the former captain's hitting ability. On the Cricket Connected Show on Star Sports, he said:
“We went on an India A tour to Kenya and Zimbabwe. We played a triangular series against Pakistan A and Kenya. The way he (MS Dhoni) was hitting the ball, we all knew he was someone who could keep wickets and hit the ball that long and that far.”
India had good wicketkeepers but they were not hard-hitting players: Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambir reminiscently added that even though India had some good wicketkeepers back then, none had MS Dhoni's batting prowess. He added:
“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.”
MS Dhoni went on to become India's most successful captain. He will always be remembered for changing the contours of middle and lower-order batting. Playing mostly at number 6, Dhoni boasted an ODI average of over 50 which was and still remains unique for that position. He had also hit 297 sixes in his 350 games.
Gautam Gambhir once remarked that if MS Dhoni had batted higher up the order in his career, he would have broken many more records. This was an endorsement of the fact that MS Dhoni did begin his career as a smasher, but he became much more than that to Team India in his 16-year journey.Published 22 Dec 2020, 21:05 IST