On this day, on July 8 in 1972, one of India’s most aggressive captains, Sourav Ganguly was born.
Hit by a match-fixing scandal, Indian cricket was going through its worst possible patch in 2000. One of the most influential captains had allegedly betrayed the fans’ hopes. Players were looked upon suspiciously by their fans now. Indian cricket lovers had lost faith in the team.
It required someone very brave to lead the team out of the shambles. This was when Sourav Ganguly emerged out as one of the bravest captains for India.
Ganguly’s major contribution was reflected in the fact that India started winning Test matches abroad. Wins in England and Australia meant that India had begun the resurgence in Test cricket. Three years after the match-fixing scandal, he took India to a World Cup final in the 2003 World Cup, after a gap of 20 years.
It was also during his stint as a captain that India saw players such as Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Mohammad Kaif, Harbhajan Singh surfacing in Indian cricket. These were the players who became match winners for India in years to come. And not to forget Virender Sehwag, who owes a lot to Ganguly as the former Indian captain sacrificed his opening position to make way for Sehwag.
The late mid-20s saw a big slump in Ganguly’s form. He was leading the team but was failing to score runs. His controversial spat with Greg Chappell got him out of the ODI team for a while. This was a phase when critics said that this was the end of Ganguly’s ODI career.
But Ganguly was not a quitter. The loss of ODI captaincy had not affected his will. He went back to domestic cricket and worked on his game. There was nothing which could stop him from missing the practice session. His hard – work paved his way into India’s ODI setup once again. Dada marked his comeback by hitting 98 runs against West Indies in Nagpur in the 2007 ODI series. Nagpur also became the venue where Ganguly played his last Test match for India against Australia in 2008.
India’s best left-handed batsman till date amassed 11363 runs in ODIs and 7212 runs in Tests in his flamboyant international career. If there was one knock which created some fear in the bowler’s mind, it was the 183-run knock against Sri Lanka in Taunton in the 1999 ODI World Cup.
There could not be a better way to celebrate Ganguly’s birthday than watching him smash Sri Lankan bowlers out of the park.