Cricket is a game of luck as well. As captain of a cricket team, you gamble on some moves or players in the hope it will pay off. While some moves pay off, others flop. But there is an inclination towards experimenting as players develop when they are removed out of their comfort zones and put into tough scenarios. It’s then the true worth of a player is known.
Here are few instances when Indian captains gambled on a few players or moves only to see it give rich dividends.
MS Dhoni promoting Rohit Sharma as captain
Until the 2013 Champions Trophy, Rohit Sharma had only batted in the middle-order, and remained inconsistent throughout. He was accused of wasting his precious talent. But then Indian captain MS Dhoni gambled on Rohit as opener. Rohit had a good campaign in the tournament as an opener as India went on to win the cup.
But that was just a start for Rohit, the opener. Rohit found a new freedom in his game as an opener. He realized he could play his natural game at the top of the order and dominate world-class bowling. He went on to score three double tons in ODIs as a opener, a feat not matched by anyone else in the history of the game.
He also went on to open the batting for India in Test cricket. He went on to score three tons, including a double ton, in his debut Test series as an opener against South Africa last year.
Sourav Ganguly promoting MS Dhoni to No 3
When MS Dhoni made his ODI debut, he had a forgettable match as he was run-out on the first ball he faced. In his second ODI series, pressure was on him to deliver. The then Indian captain Sourav Ganguly believed in him, and asked him to bat at No 3 against Pakistan in Vizag in 2005.
And then Dhoni demolished the Pakistan bowling attack to announce his arrival in world cricket. He cracked 148 off 123 balls with 15 fours and 4 sixes to take India to a match-winning total of 356/9. It was Dhoni’s fifth ODI, and he went on to play 350 ODI games for India, winning the 2011 World Cup as the captain.
Mohammed Azharuddin giving Sachin Tendulkar the final over in 1996 Hero Cup semi-final
India were staring defeat going into the final over in the semi-final against South Africa. India had just 6 runs to defend in the final over with Brian McMillan at the crease. Then Indian captain Azhar handed over the ball to Sachin despite an over left from Kapil Dev.
But it was a gamble that paid off. Sachin tied the South Africans, bowling three dot balls and effecting a run-out. With four needed off the last ball, McMillan could manage just a single as India won the match by just 2 runs. India then defeated West Indies in the final to etch a memorable win.
Anil Kumble insisting on Virender Sehwag in the 2008 tour of Australia Down Under
During the tour of Australia in 2008, then Indian captain Anil Kumble insisted on Virender Sehwag on the tour although the Indian opener was dropped for poor form. But Kumble had faith on Sehwag and was determined him to get on the flight to Australia. Sehwag was the third opener in the tour after Wasim Jaffer and Rahul Dravid, and was playing Test cricket after a year.
But only when Sehwag showed some form in tour games, he was selected. He was asked to open in the third Test at Perth, where he scored 29, and 43. India went on to win the match and break Australia’s 16-match winning streak.
In the fourth Test at Adelaide, Sehwag made 63, and 151 as the match ended in a draw. It was the second life for Sehwag in international cricket then, thanks to Kumble.
Photo credit: MS Dhoni FB page