The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Early days, but hope for 2007
- Dhoni answers a prayer

Calcutta: Mahendra Singh Dhoni's smashing 148 in Vizag isn't great news in the short-term only ' it could impact on Team India's prospects in the 2007 World Cup.

Of course, these still are early days for that quadrennial showpiece, but the search for a wicketkeeper-batsman in ODIs will surely end now.

Moreover, should the 23-year-old Dhoni be flawless with the big gloves as well, Dinesh Karthik's Test berth is going to be under serious threat.

As for Parthiv Patel, he may begin exploring options outside cricket. For the time being, at least.

Given that the Yuvraj Singhs aren't exactly recognised as full-fledged allrounders, captain Sourav Ganguly (and coach John Wright) were desperate for a wicketkeeper who could contribute elsewhere as well.

Their desperation grew once it became apparent vice-captain Rahul Dravid was through with playing a double role ' it's another matter that, by doing so, he helped take us to the 2003 World Cup final.

Dhoni did little with the bat in his debut series (in Bangladesh, last December) but lashed an unbeaten 102 off 96 balls for India Senior in the Challenger not many weeks later.

That innings against India B ensured his selection for the ongoing ODIs versus Pakistan.

In fact, while Dhoni has to be showered with accolades for a Viv Richards-like classic ' clean and powerful ' compliments are also due to Sourav and Wright.

They struck gold by persuading Dravid to begin 'keeping too, in early 2002; they struck it rich by utilising Dhoni's hard-hitting talent.

According to The Telegraph's sources, both the captain and coach 'discussed' the possibility of sending Dhoni at No. 3 on the eve of the first ODI, in Kochi.

However, that would have materialised had India chased. Instead, we set a target and Sourav kept to his pre-designated No. 3 position.

In Vizag, by the captain's own admission, Dhoni got promoted to ensure the Virender Sehwag-authored 'momentum' wasn't lost in the first 15 overs.

India eventually got as many as 124 (for the loss of two wickets) while the field restrictions were on.

'Being out of form, I would have taken time to settle,' Sourav confessed. Neither he nor Wright was let down.

Incidentally, Dhoni's stunner is the highest by any wicketkeeper after 'idol' Adam Gilchrist (172 and 154).

It's unlikely Gilchrist would have reservations 'lending' his name to such an effort.

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