MUMBAI: Mumbai Cricket Association chief Sharad Pawar has revealed that it was Sachin Tendulkar who batted for Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain of the Indian team after Rahul Dravid expressed his desire to give up captaincy in 2007.
"Sachin loves to lend a helping hand to fellow players, especially the juniors, and believes in team spirit. Humility is his middle name. He gave up captaincy to concentrate on his game," Pawar wrote on his blog on Sunday.
"Now, a cute story which will delight the countless fans of Sachin Tendulkar and M S Dhoni as well. It so happened that a few years ago the Indian cricket team was playing in England. As BCCI chief I too was in London," he said.
"One day Rahul Dravid came to me with a request that took me by surprise. Dravid said he wanted to give up captaincy as it affected his game. I flatly said no. The Twenty20 series was to begin soon an and the World Cup match was barely a year away," the union agriculture minister recalled.
Pawar said Dravid had suggested Tendulkar as the possible replacement but the senior batsman was not keen.
"How could Dravid think of giving up captaincy at such a critical juncture? Who would be his successor? Dravid persisted. He suggested Sachin's name as the next captain. I talked to Sachin on the issue. He didn't seem eager to step into Dravid's shoes. Instead, he suggested Dhoni's name. This came as a twist in the tale.
"'Dhoni is an excellent wicket-keeper. But, will he make a good captain?' I asked Sachin. 'You try him out. He will make a great captain. I say this with a sense of responsibility', Sachin replied," said Pawar in his recollection.
"Accordingly, the BCCI's selection committee chose Dhoni as the team captain. And he did India proud. We won the Twenty20 World Cup and, later, the 2011 World Cup in Mumbai as well. Handsome praise was heaped on the new captain which he rightly deserved. This happened because of Sachin's far-sightedness."
"Sachin is all set to retire. However, he can't keep himself away from cricket for too long. I am sure grooming young players will be a part of his post-retirement plans. Best wishes to the Master Blaster," Pawar said.