Happy Birthday Sourav Ganguly – As the former India captain and Indian Cricket “Dada” turns 48, here is a look at five decisions Ganguly made as a captain that changed the face of Indian cricket.
Sourav Ganguly, the enigmatic former captain of India, the prolific opener of ODI, and the current president of BCCI turns 48 on Wednesday. With 11,363 runs and 22 ODI hundreds to his name, Ganguly is considered to be one of the best opening pitchers in India that Indian cricket has ever produced. In addition to his batting records, Ganguly is also hailed as one of the top Indian Cricket team captains and is often credited for the team revolution in the early 2000s.
Under his leadership, India beat Australia in the series. Test in 2001, beat England at Lord’s to win the 2002 Natwest Trophy, reached the 2003 ODI World Cup final, tied England in the Test series in 2004, and even defeated Pakistan in a Test series in 2005.
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The decisions made by Sourav Ganguly as captain that changed Indian cricket forever
Sending Laxman to No. 3 in Calcutta in 2001 against Australia
Sourav Ganguly was always an instinctive captain. Laxman was the only Indian hitter to be comfortable against the Australian attack in the first innings of the famous Calcutta Test in 2001. India was asked to follow him as soon as Day 3 and Ganguly decided to promote Laxman in the No.3 in place of Rahul Dravid. The play worked wonders for both of them as both Dravid and Laxman fought on Day 4 and the latter recorded 281, the highest score for an Indian to establish an improbable victory on Day 5, which was completed by a rabid Harbhajan Singh… The victory ended Australia’s 16-game winning streak and India went on to win the Final Test in Chennai to take the series 2-1.
Ask Sehwag to open
Virender Sehwag had batted in the middle order all his life. Even when he made his Test in India debut at Bloemfontein in South Africa, he had shattered a century of hitting at No. 6. But Sourav Ganguly saw something that many could not. He asked Sehwag to open the batting for India, as he believed that hitting the Delhi right-hander would bring more results on top of the order. The rest, as they say, is history. Averaging close to 50 and two triple tons to his name, Sehwag became one of India’s most successful test starters and contributed to many Indian victories, especially abroad.
Convince Dravid to put on the gloves
Sourav Ganguly’s India did not have the luxury of an MS Dhoni in large part. Finding a permanent vigilante had become the longest headache for them. Ganguly decided to end it by asking Rahul Dravid to hold the wickets to keep his balance.
The reluctant Dravid, who was one of India’s most trusted blue-chip hitters at the time, had no choice but to obey his captain’s orders. The move turned out to be successful as it allowed India to play an additional hitter during the period between 2002 and 2004. In the end, it turned out that Dravid wasn’t as bad as No. 5 either. In fact, some of his best ODI tickets came at the time.
Selecting Dhoni and then promoting him to No.3 vs Pakistan
It cannot be a mere coincidence that the two most successful captains of Indian cricket are born just a day apart. It would have been the perfect fairy tale if Sourav Ganguly had been born on July 7 and Dhoni a day later rather than the other way around. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was Ganguly, who decided to try Dhoni after just one successful series for India A in Kenya. “That is my job, right? That is the job of each captain to choose and make the best team possible,” Ganguly told Mayank Agarwal in the episode of “Open Networks with Mayank,” answering a fan’s question, it was true that Ganguly had decided to choose from nothing.
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But Sourav Ganguly did not stop there. After some disastrous first outings, questions were raised about Dhoni’s position on the Indian side. But Ganguly knew his potential and decided to promote Dhoni to hit No. 3 in an ODI against Pakistan at Vizag in 2005. Dhoni broke 148 and has never looked back since then.
Support young talents and make the team believe that they can win abroad.
The likes of Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, MS Dhoni, all flourished under the leadership of Ganguly. It was the former India starter who built the Indian side out of the routine of the 2000 match-fixing scandals and led them to believe they can win anywhere in the world. Ganguly’s overseas record of 11 abroad wins in 28 tests, the second-best after Virat Kohli, speak for themselves.