How Sourav Ganguly transformed Indian Cricket

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Sourav Ganguly

Today we celebrate the birthday of a legend, a legend name Sourav Ganguly. Explore how he through his leadership and strategic decisions, resurrected Indian cricket after the match-fixing scandal, instilling a fearless and winning spirit in the team.

As they say that things generally get worse before they get better. Indian cricket reached its nadir around the start of the 21st century in the wake of match-fixing controversy. Several senior players were alleged to have been involved in the worst possible controversy cricket had faced before since its inception. In India, where the game is considered a religion, cricket lost its credibility among the fans, who were the biggest stakeholders of the game. At this crucial juncture, India needed someone who could resurrect the image of the game in the country. And Indian cricket fans found that man in Sourav Ganguly who not only took us out of the woods but established a new fearless team that was frightened of none but, rather, was ready to take on anyone.

It may sound like a film script now, but the way India defeated the mighty Australia post the match-fixing scandal under the brave as well as astute leadership of Ganguly, it was nothing but a high-octane drama unfolded in front of thousands of cricket fans at the Mecca of Indian cricket—Eden Gardens.

India not only had to manage the off-field troubles of match-fixing but there were several shortcomings in their team also as their spin bowling spearhead Anil Kumble was out of the series with an injury.

India was up against a team that was coming to India after winning 16 straight Test matches. Before that 2001 series, the great Australian team under the redoubtable Steve Waugh won every citadel except India.

And they started with a bang by winning the first Test of a three-match series inside three days in Mumbai. And halfway through the second Test at Eden Gardens, it seemed that series win was just a formality for them as they bundled India out for just 171 and asked them to follow on.

Why I considered this 2001 series as a film script is that fact that everything was against India till the VVS Laxman played that innings of 281 in the company of Rahul Dravid who made 180. And then off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, whom Ganguly got persuasively selected in the team, took a hat-trick and helped India clinch the match from the jaws of defeat and level the series 1-1.

In the series decider in Chennai, India again narrowly defeated Australia to win one of the most hard-fought series against one of the best teams ever to play cricket.

In that series, Ganguly showed that Indian cricket was not a pushover and they can give a tough time to any opposition. Ganguly also gave us the belief that India could win outside the sub-continent which was unthinkable at that time. It was Ganguly who showed us that the Indian players could do wonders if we believe in them.

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Raj Kapoor

In 2001 Ganguly started building a cricket team that would be play a fearless brand of cricket in the years to come. The subsequent Indian captains like MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli have carried the baton forward given to them by our very own Sourav Ganguly.

Today is Saurav Ganguly’s birthday and what better occasion could it be to share this article. Happy Birthday Dada!


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