His time, however, was also known for the rise of several younger players in the squad including Dhoni and Suresh Raina.
“I vividly remember that I was left awestruck when I saw him batting for the first time. He was definitely the most exciting cricketer in India at that time. He used to hit the ball from the most unusual positions. He is the most powerful batsman I have ever seen,” said Chappell during a chat session on the Facebook handle of the Playwrite Foundation.
“I remember his knock of 183 against Sri Lanka and how he tore them apart. It was power hitting at its very best. The next match was in Pune. I asked MS, ‘why don’t you play along the ground more instead of trying to hit every ball to the boundary’. We were chasing 260 odd and were in a good position and Dhoni was playing a contrasting innings to the one he had played just a couple of days before.
“We still needed 20 runs to win and Dhoni asked me, through 12th man RP Singh if he could hit sixes. I told him not until the target was in single digit. When we needed six runs to win, he finished the game with a six,” he said.
In latter years, Dhoni would become one of the most successful captains of all time, leading India to the 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 World Cup titles. He would also become known for the efficiency with which he managed to successfully finish run-chases with his innings structured in the manner Chappell spoke about.
“I always used to challenge him if he could finish the game. There used to be a booming smile on his face, whenever he used to score the winning runs. He is definitely the best finisher the game has ever seen,” said Chappell.
Dhoni last played for India during the 2019 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand. He was slated to lead Chennai Super Kings in the 13th IPL edition which currently stands indefinitely suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic.