If Mahendra Singh Dhoni became India's Test captain in 2008, he should thank two 'veterans' in the squad who proposed his name. Dilip Vengsarkar, who was the chief national selector then, revealed at a book launch ceremony in Mumbai on Wednesday that Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid suggested Dhoni take over the leadership after Anil Kumble quit.
Speaking at the launch of 'Sachin: Cricketer of the Century' by journalist Vimal Kumar, Vengsarkar said he never imagined that Tendulkar would keep playing for India till the age of 40. "He can certainly keep playing and once he retires, cricket will surely miss Tendulkar," said Vengsarkar. The Colonel, as Vengsarkar was known for his upright batting stance, revealed that it was after Tendulkar and Dravid gave their thumbs up, Dhoni was made India's Test skipper.
Dhoni, of course, had the credentials to become India's Test skipper. He was appointed the T20 captain in the ICC T20 World Cup in South Africa in September 2007. India won the Cup beating Pakistan in the final. Dhoni went on to become the ODI captain and when an injured Anil Kumble pulled out and subsequently quit, Dhoni, till then India's vice-captain, was elevated as Test skipper in the fourth and final Test against Australia in November 2008.
Apart from Vengsarkar, former Indian pacer and a star of the 1983 World Cup-winning squad, Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Lalchand Rajput reminisced about Tendulkar's formative days. Sandhu felt Tendulkar could have been a better Indian captain "had he got better support staff." By his lofty standards, Tendulkar's record as a captain is rather tepid. He became Test captain in 1996 at the age of 23. In the 25 Tests he led, India won four, lost nine and drew 12. The 3-0 whitewash in Australia in 1999-2000 was a low point for Tendulkar.
Interestingly, on February 25 this year, Dhoni surpassed Tendulkar's record of highest individual Test score by an Indian captain en route his majestic 224 against Australia in the first cricket Test at Chennai. Dhoni, who reached his maiden double century, went past Tendulkar's 217 scored against New Zealand in 1999-00 at Ahmedabad.
With Tendulkar in no mood to quit Test cricket in a hurry, Vengsarkar, Sandhu and Rajput wished the Little Master luck. Mumbai team-mate Amol Muzumdar said: "Sachin has always kept his head on the shoulder and he has broken so many records that even playing at 41 will not be a surprise."