When MS Dhoni played alongside Pakistan cricketers in the inaugural Bradman T20 Cup in 2005
- MS Dhoni played in the same team as Kamran Akmal, Salman Butt and Shoaib Malik for the Don Bradman XI in Bengaluru.
- MS Dhoni made a 61-ball 91* for his side which helped them scale a 166-run target.
In August 2005, a long-haired MS Dhoni partnered Dean Jones to the middle for the Sir Don Bradman XI against the Karnataka State Cricket Association XI at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
The Bradman XI v KCA XI was the third match of the inaugural Bradman Twenty20 Cup, one of the earliest forms of a league-based T20 tournament hosted by the Karnataka State Cricket Association.
The tournament featured six teams in Air India, Sir Donald Bradman XI, Chemplast, Bengal Cricket Association XI, New South Wales apart from hosts, Karnataka State Cricket Association XI.
And, one name among the playing XI of the first match for the Bradman XI was that of MS Dhoni.
A 24-year-old aggressive opener back then, MS Dhoni did not have the greatest of starts to the tournament and was removed for a 3-ball 5.
MS Dhoni opens with Kamran Akmal, scores 61-ball 91*
In the second match of the tournament, on August 20, 2005, MS Dhoni opened the batting yet again for Bradman XI, this time against his former team Chemplast.
MS Dhoni lost his batting partners in quick time as Kamran Akmal (0), Salman Butt (14), Shoaib Malik (17), Russell Arnold (0) failed to make big scores, but the Ranchi-born opener held his ground and stuck to his approach.
MS Dhoni finished on a 61-ball 91* including 6 fours and 6 sixes which helped his side chase down a 133-run target.
While this was one of MS Dhoni's earliest displays of his aggression at the top of the order, former RCB star cricketer Akhil Balachandra remembers how MS Dhoni appeared nervous at the beginning, given that he was just entering the big leagues.
"MS Dhoni was very new at that time, and he was slightly nervous like all of us domestic players. He did struggle a bit against the spinners in the tournament," said Akhil Balachandra in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda.
"MS Dhoni's confidence soared after the World T20 win"
Akhil was by then one of Karnataka's most proficient all-rounders and played a big part in KCA XI's journey to the final, where he even crafted his way to 51*, but was unfortunate to finish on the losing side.
The Karnataka all-rounder's consistent show in the domestic circuit earned him a contract with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL. Akhil was a key member of RCB's middle order in the first two seasons and is even famously remembered for his 7-ball 27* laced with two fours and three sixes that helped RCB chase a 166-run target against the Deccan Chargers in IPL 2008.
Akhil further reckoned that India's T20 World Cup win and the inaugural IPL season brought about the winds of change in MS Dhoni.
"The 2007 T20 World Cup win and the subsequent IPL changed him. Till then he was as insecure as any newcomer in international cricket. Once IPL came and India won the T20 World Cup, his whole confidence soared and from there it was no looking back. There was never a doubt about his ability" Akhil added.