Sourav Ganguly, the most incomprehensible former Indian captain turns 48 today. With a record of 11363 runs and 22 ODI centuries to his name, Ganguly has been named as one of the most loved captain and one of India’s best batsman ever been produced.
Under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly, India went to beat Australia in Test series in 2001, beat England at Lord’s to win in 2002 Natwest Trophy, reached 2003 ODI World Cup final, drew against England in Test series in 2004, and even defeated Pakistan in a Test series in 2005.
A prolific opener and the present BCCI president, Dada has also been one of the most risk-taking and experimenting captains of his times. He took some decisions that changed the face of Indian cricket forever. Let us revisit some of the bold and best decisions taken by the former Indian captain.
1. SENDING VVS LAXMAN AT NUMBER THREE IN 2001 AGAINST AUSTRALIA:
Being an instinctive captain, Ganguly knew Laxman was the only player who faced Australia’s bowling with ease on the Kolkata’s Eden Garden’s pitch in the first innings. India were asked to follow on as early as on day three and the skipper decided to promote Laxman in place of Rahul Dravid at number three.
The move worked wonders for both as both Dravid and Laxman batted through Day 4 with latter registering 281 – the then highest score by an Indian to set up an improbable win on Day 5 which was completed by a rampaging Harbhajan Singh. The win put an end to Australia’s 16-match winning streak and India then went to win the final Test at Chennai to take the series 2-1.
2. ASKING SEHWAG TO OPEN:
All his life, Virender Sehwag has played in the middle order. Even during his Test debut at Bloemfontein in South Africa, he had smashed a century at number six. However, Ganguly noticed something that many failed to.
He asked Sehwag to open the batting for India as he believed the Delhi right-hander’s batting would bring more results at the top of the order. The rest as they say is history. With an average close to 50 and two triple tons to his name, Sehwag became one of India’s most successful Test openers and contributed to many Indian victories, especially overseas.
3. CONVINCING DRAVID TO BE BEHIND THE STUMPS:
Sourav Ganguly’s India did not have the luxury of having MS Dhoni as a wicket-keeper. For them, finding a permanent wicket-keeper was a task ever since. However, the present BCCI president decided to put an end by asking Rahul Dravid to do the keeping for team India.
Dravid was sceptical but had no other choice apart from obeying his captain’s commands. The move turned out to be a successful one as it allowed India to play an extra batsman during the period between 2002 and 2004. As it turned out, Dravid did not too badly as No.5 either. In fact, some of his best ODI innings came at that time.
4. SELECTING DHONI AND PROMOTING HIM TO NUMBER THREE LATER ON:
We all know for a fact that if it wouldn’t have been for Sourav Ganguly, we wouldn’t have been able to experience the magic of former Indian captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. It cannot be a co-incidence that two successful Indian captains are born just a day apart.
“That’s my job, isn’t it? That’s every captain’s job to pick and make the best team possible,” Ganguly told Mayank Agarwal on the episode of ‘Open Nets with Mayank’ answering a fan’s query it was true that Dada had indeed decided to pick out of nowhere.
However, he didn’t stop there. After a disastrous first few outings, questions were raised about Dhoni’s position in the Indian side. But Ganguly knew his potential and he decided to promote Dhoni to bat at No.3 in an ODI against Pakistan in Vizag in 2005. Dhoni smashed 148 and since then, there’s no looking back.
5. BELIEVING IN YOUNG TALENT
The likes of Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, MS Dhoni, Zaheer Khan – all were bloomed under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly. It was the former Indian opener who had rebuilt the Indian side from the 2000 match-fixing scandal and made them believe they can win any match, anywhere in the world.
Many cricketers, Indian or international, look upto Dada for everything – from his undoubted leadership skills to unstoppable batting – he is still one of the most loved cricketer.
We wish Sourav Ganguly a very happy birthday! Leave your best wishes for Dada in the comments below. Read more such massively-hit content on Mad Over Cricket.