Sourav Ganguly burst into the international arena as a southpaw from Bengal, who could contribute with both bat and ball. People discarded him by calling quota player, but it just took 1 innings to change the mindset of spectators and cognoscenti’s. He scored blazing hundred at Lords, the mecca of cricket followed by yet another sensational hundred at Trent Bridge.
A new star was born on the Indian cricket sky. Within a span of 1 year, he became a regular member of both tests and ODI squad scoring match winnings in every part of the globe. He was considered a nightmare for left arm spinners and didn’t hesitate to give charge to speed merchants. By the end of 20th century, he was the second best Indian batsman after Sachin Tendulkar in terms of centuries, run scored and wicket taken. He could do anything, if the team required.
The Black Cloud of Match Fixing
No one knew that amidst exceptional performances and team victories, some players were involved in match fixing. The nation was in shock and in complete disbelief, when the ghost of match fixing came out of the bottle. Ajay Jadeja, Manoj Prabhakar, Nayan Mongia and above all ,captain Mohammad Azzharuddin was the prime accused. Even the old stalwarts like Kapil Dev were dragged. The blame game was on.
String operations were leaked by Manoj Prabhakar, completely tearing the credibility of once a gentlemen game. The sport became a matter of joke. Sachin Tendulkar was hurt the most. He was the acting captain during the period. He decided to quit the captaincy leaving team in shambles. The end of Indian cricket was near.
The captaincy was handed over to Sourav Ganguly. No one knew, the southpaw will soon become great Indian cricket captain ever giving every cricket fan the opportunity to witness the golden era of Indian cricket. It was the era, when a bunch of superstars came under one roof and transformed into a cricket juggernaut.
This is a story of our very own “Prince of Kolkata” Sourav Ganguly and how he changed the face of Indian cricket. What were the revolutionary steps he took to bring back the lost interest in the game and made them the most watched Cricket team across the cricket globe?
Restoring lost credibility in the Game
The first job of the Bengal tiger was to restore the lost credibility by playing the neat cricket. He went to senior players and took them into confidence. He clearly stated there is no leader. We all are leader in our own spectrum and have to play as a team.
He wiped the old team to clean the system. Especially the suspected players bring fresh blood in the team. He brought the likes Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh,Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Mohammad Kaif, Irrfan Pathan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni to the team.
He developed a team of players, who play to win not draw or focus on individual performances. Within a year, the team was back on winning track producing positive results. The match fixing genie was back in the bottle. A silver lining was visible over Indian cricket.
Picked Players on Merit, not on regional Background
Before the Ganguly era, the regional biasedness was visible in Indian cricket. The Mumbai cricket lobby was working to cement the mumbaikar players in Indian side. Mohammad Azharuddin favored the Hyderabad cricket. A few players from Delhi and Punjab could only cement their place, but small towns were nowhere in the canvas.
Ganguly intervened in the process and started picking players on talent and adaptability scale instead of regional background. He denied to captain if he isn’t provided the desired team. He played to win and prove Indian mettle on global map. The small towns were on high priority. He picked the gems from the dust and groomed them like a guardian.
Developed aggression and Fighting skills in the Players
Indian players weren’t taught the language of aggression, they were the good boys playing neat cricket and focused on the game. They resisted sledging and never gave back to the opposition. They never even stared in the opposition eyes.
Ganguly was an aggressive and used his aggression to produce results. He gave the players a free hand to have a go at the opposition and fight till the end, irrespective of results. The Indian team was the only team, who challenged and crumbled the world champions Australia in India and at their home den.
The Indian players played with fire and throttled every opposition with their splendid performance and aggressive attitude.
Recorded most Overseas wins as an Indian Captain
The Indian team has always been a juggernaut at home. It was almost next to impossible to beat them at home, but outside the subcontinent, they were slaughtered like a lamb. A lack of respect was evident. Opposition knew the team possess few exceptional players and expect them to rock, but eventually the team will crumble under pressure and lose the match. It was a matter of low self-esteem and lack of self-belief.
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Ganguly aim was to win overseas and he exposed the players on foreign conditions, giving them abundant opportunity to cash in and win matches for India. Ganguly along with other senior players steadied the sheep. Under Ganguly captaincy, India played 28 matches overseas and won 11.
Fitness and Fielding was on High Alert
Sourav Ganguly realized it was the batting and bowling which let them down overseas or in close shaves, but fielding. The opposition easily rotated the strike and converted singles into doubles and doubles into triples. Indian bowlers weren’t served the opportunity to find their rhythm and were forced to deliver batsman friendly deliveries.
Sourav Ganguly put fitness and fielding on red alert and picked acrobatic players in the team, who could stop the opposition from rotating the strike and even catch them red handed at points and slips. The order was to go for the kill and fight till the last ball.
His Captaincy career statistics might have lost its shine, but he was the actual leader of the wolf pack.