N Srinivasan has revealed he overruled the selection panel and "exercised all my authority" as BCCI president to save MS Dhoni's captaincy in 2011. Dhoni's position had come under scrutiny, despite India's World Cup win, after they had been whitewashed 4-0 in the Test series in England and Australia.
The Australia reversal, in particular, made the national selectors contemplate appointing a new ODI captain for the tri-series that was to follow. However, this is when Srinivasan is believed to have vetoed any such move by the selectors.
Under the BCCI's constitution at the time, every appointment had to be ratified by the board president. Therefore Srinivasan was within his rights to intervene in this matter. It is not clear, however, whether another captain was picked by the selectors and vetoed by Srinivasan (as the rule specified); his comment only says he ensured Dhoni was retained as captain.
"This was 2011. India had won the World Cup. And [then] in Australia, we didn't do well in the Tests. So, one of the selectors wanted to remove Dhoni as the ODI captain," Srinivasan told the Indian Express. "The point is, how do you remove him as the ODI captain?
"He had won the World Cup [in April 2011]. The selectors had not even thought of who would be his replacement. There was a discussion and then [before the formal meeting] and I said there was no way in which he would not be a player [captain].
"In fact, it was a holiday. I was playing golf. I came back. Sanjay Jagdale was the [BCCI] secretary at that time and he said, 'Sir, they [selectors] are refusing to choose the captain. They will take him [Dhoni] in the team [as a player].' I came and said that MS Dhoni would be the captain. I exercised all my authority as the [BCCI] president."
Srinivasan's comments merely confirm what was widely speculated at the time. That the BCCI president, who also happened to be the owner of the IPL franchise (Chennai Super Kings) Dhoni captained, intervened to prevent a captaincy change.
There was also speculation that this also led to Mohinder Amarnath being sacked as a selector when he was tipped to take over as chairman of the selection committee from Kris Srikkanth. Amarnath had been vocal in his decision to oust Dhoni as captain at the time. Sandeep Patil, Amarnath's former India team-mate, eventually took over.
'Dhoni can play for CSK as long as he wants'
Srinivasan has also left the door open for Dhoni to play for CSK for as long as he wants. Dhoni announced his international retirement on August 15 from Chennai, where he is currently involved in a preparatory camp with the other Indian players before flying out to Dubai for the 2020 IPL.
"He can play for CSK as long as he wants," Srinivasan said. "At present, let CSK win the IPL. One of the reasons for CSK's success under Dhoni is that he never thinks beyond the match. He never digresses. And we will follow the same policy now."
Earlier this month, Kasi Viswanathan, the Super Kings CEO, said they expect Dhoni to play for the franchise for another two years at least.