No matter how many fielders you place on the off-side, Sourav Ganguly would always find the gap. Rahul Dravid said, “On the off-side, first there is God, then there is Sourav Ganguly.” Dada possessed an ability that former Indian captains didn’t. His aggression and dominant style of play transformed the Indian team. India not only became a strong opposition while touring other countries but also learned how to give it back as far as sledging was concerned. As a player as well as a captain, Ganguly went on to inspire many during his playing career. On this day, eight years ago, Ganguly retired from international cricket and here’s a tribute to the legend.
Century on Test debut and a decade-long career (1996-2008)
The Prince of Calcutta represented India in 113 Test matches where he scored 7212 runs at an average of 42.17. Ganguly cemented his position in the middle-order and served the team for over a decade. On his debut against England at Lord’s in 1996, Ganguly became the 10th Indian cricketer to score a century on debut. He scored 131 runs and took 3 wickets in the match. He followed up his performance with another century in the next Test at Nottingham. He scored 136 in the first innings and 48 in the second with 3 wickets as well.
In his career, Ganguly scored 16 centuries and 35 fifties with a highest score of 239 against arch-rivals Pakistan. He not only contributed with the bat but also with the ball as he took 32 wickets. In his last Test match against Australia, he scored 85 in the first innings and a duck in the second but India won the match as well as the 4-match series (2-0).
An aggressive captain who taught India how to win Tests abroad
As a captain, Ganguly led India in 49 matches. India won 21 games, lost 13 and drew 15 under his captaincy. With these stats, Ganguly not only became the best captain India had seen but also played a vital role in the changing the mindset of the team. Before Ganguly, Mohammad Azharuddin had the best win percentage of 29.78 for any Indian captain in Tests. Ganguly’s 42.85 win percentage became the best by any Indian captain during the time he led India.
At present, Kohli has the best win percentage of 55.55 in 18* Tests with 10 wins, 2 losses, and 5 draws. Dhoni has a win percentage of 45 in 60 Tests with 27 wins, 18 losses, and 15 draws. Ganguly stands at the third position.
ODI career (1992-2007) and partnership with Sachin Tendulkar
Sourav Ganguly made his debut in ODIs in 1992 against the mighty West Indies. Ganguly failed to impress on his debut as he scored just 3 runs. In his 11th ODI against South Africa, he opened the innings for the first time and the iconic Sachin-Sourav partnership was formed. The duo added 126 runs for the opening stand with Ganguly adding 54 and Tendulkar 64. Ganguly went on to play 311 ODIs, scored 11363 runs at an average of 41.02. He scored 22 centuries and 72 fifties with a highest score of 183 runs against Sri Lanka (1999) in his career. A genuine all-rounder, Ganguly has 100 wickets to his name. He is the only player to have won 4 consecutive Man of the Match awards in ODIs. He achieved this feat against Pakistan in 1997.
Who can forget the iconic win in the finals of the NatWest Series where Ganguly removed his jersey and went berserk? On July 13, 2002, in a nail-biting finish, India won the series 3-2 against England. India had lost 9 finals before the NatWest finals and 6 had come under Ganguly’s captaincy. After winning the match, Ganguly responded in the same way as Flintoff had in Mumbai. Ganguly led India in 146 matches out of which India won on 76 occasions while faced defeat on 65 instances with 5 no results.
Thank you, Sourav Ganguly, for teaching India how to play on the front foot. Had you not been there, winning series abroad might still have been a dream.
- Cover Video Courtesy: YouTube.com/boobalan002