God Of Off-Side
Sourav Chandidas Ganguly is certainly a name to be reckoned with in the field of Cricket. Born on 8th July 1972, Sourav was the son of Chandidas Ganguly, one of the richest men in the city of Kolkata. He was enrolled in a cricket coaching camp despite the dislike of his mother. As a boy he deeply admired David Gower, one of the most stylish left-handed batsmen of his era. Sourav despite right handed learnt to bat left handed so that he could use his brother’s equipment. He made his first class debut for Bengal in 1989, the same year Snehasish was dropped from the team.
Following a prolific Ranji season in 1990-91, He scored 3 runs in his ODI Debut against West Indies in 1992. He was removed from the team for being arrogant, and it was even rumoured that he refused to carry drinks for his teammates.
Due to his heavy scoring in the 93-94 and 94-95 Ranji Trophy and his 171 in the 1995-96 Duleep Trophy he was recalled into the team. He played a single ODI but was omitted from the first test. After Navjot Singh Sidhu left the tour citing ill treatment by Capt. Mohammad Azharuddin, Ganguly made his test debut against England in the 2nd test. He scored a century thus becoming only the third person to do so on their debut at Lord’s. He made another century in the 3rd test thus becoming the third person to score 2 centuries in each of his first two innings.
Weeks after his successful tour of England , Ganguly eloped with his childhood sweetheart Dona Roy due to bitter enmity between the families of the bride and the groom and this caused an uproar. However both families reconciled and a formal wedding was held in February 1997.
Same year, Ganguly scored his maiden ODI century by hitting 113. Later that year, he won four consecutive man of the match awards, in the Sahara Cup with Pakistan; the second of these was won after he took five wickets for 16 runs off 10 overs, his best bowling in an ODI. After a barren run in Test cricket his form returned at the end of the year with three centuries in four Tests all against Sri Lanka two of these involved stands with Sachin Tendulkar of over 250.
World Cup Of ’99
Ganguly was part of the Indian team that competed in the 1999 Cricket World Cup in England. During the match against Sri Lanka at Taunton, Ganguly scored 183 from 158 balls, and hit 17 fours and seven sixes. It became the second highest score in World Cup history and the highest by an Indian in the tournament. His partnership of 318 with Rahul Dravid is the highest overall score in a World Cup and is the second highest in all ODI cricket. Around the same time, allegations came that Ganguly was romantically involved with South Indian actress Nagma, something he denied.
Holding The Reigns Of The Indian Team
In 2000, after the match fixing scandal by some of the players of the team, Ganguly was named the Captain of the Indian cricket team. The decision was spurred due to Tendulkar stepping down from the position for his health, and Ganguly being the vice-captain at that time. He began well as a captain, leading India to a series win over South Africa in the five-match one day series and led the Indian team to the finals of the 2000 ICC KnockOut Trophy.
In Australia’s three Test and five match ODI tour of India in early 2001, Ganguly caused controversy by arriving late for the toss on four occasions, something that agitated opposing captain Steve Waugh. In the Fourth ODI, he caused further controversy by failing to wear his playing attire to the toss, something considered unusual in cricket circles. However, India won the Test series 2–1, ending Australia’s run of 16 consecutive Test match victories in the Second Test. The match saw India looking set for defeat after conceding a first innings lead of 274. Waugh chose to enforce the follow-on and V. V. S. Laxman (281) and Rahul Dravid (180) batted for the entire fourth day’s play to set Australia a target of 384 on a dusty, spinning wicket. The Australians were unable to survive and became only the third team to lose a Test after enforcing the follow-on. In November 2001, Ganguly’s wife Dona gave birth to their daughter Sana Ganguly.
During the final match of the 2002 Natwest Trophy held in Lords after a stunning performance by team mates Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif, Ganguly took off his shirt in public and brandished it in the air to celebrate India’s winning of the match. He was later strongly condemned for tarnishing the “gentleman’s game” image of cricket and disrespecting Lords protocol. Ganguly said that he was only mimicking an act performed by the British all-rounder Andrew Flintoff during a tour of India. In 2003, India reached the World Cup Final for the first time since 1983, where they lost to the Australians. Ganguly had a successful tournament personally, scoring 465 runs at an average of 58.12, including three centuries.
By 2004, he had achieved significant success as captain and was deemed as India’s most successful cricket captain by sections of the media. However, his individual performance deteriorated during his captaincy reign, especially after the World Cup, the tour of Australia in 2003 and the Pakistan series in 2004. In 2004, Australia won a Test series in India for the first time since 1969. It was speculated that Ganguly was in disagreement with the head of cricket in Nagpur over the type of pitch to be used for the Third Test. The groundsmen went against Ganguly, leaving a large amount of grass on the pitch. Some experts indicated that the reason for this was for “spite or revenge” against the Indian captain.
Following indifferent form in 2004 and poor form in 2005, he was dropped from the team in October 2005 and the captaincy was passed to Dravid, his former deputy. Ganguly decided against retiring and attempted to make a comeback to the team. Ganguly was awarded the Padma Shri in 2004, one of India’s highest awards. He was presented with the award on June 30, 2004, by then President of India, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.
In September 2005, Greg Chappell became the coach for the India tour of Zimbabwe. Ganguly’s dispute with him resulted in many headlines. Chappell had emailed the Board of Control for Cricket in India, stating that Ganguly was “physically and mentally” unfit to lead India and that his “divide and rule” behaviour was damaging the team. This email was leaked to the media and resulted in huge backlash from Ganguly’s fans. Ganguly had enlisted the support from the Indian media and eventually the board had to intervene and order a truce between the pair. Consequently, due to his poor form and differences with the coach, Ganguly was dropped as the captain of the team, with Dravid taking his place.
Following India’s poor batting display in the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy and the ODI series in South Africa, in which they were whitewashed 4-0, Ganguly made his comeback to the Test team. Wasim Jaffer, Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble had earlier been selected for the one-day squad, despite their recent poor performances. Many saw this as an indictment of coach Greg Chappell’s youth-first policy. Coming in at 37/4, Ganguly scored 83 in a tour match against the rest of South Africa, modifying his original batting style and taking a middle-stump guard, resulting in India winning the match. During his first Test innings since his comeback, against South Africa in Jo’burg his score of 51 helped India to victory, marking the first Test match win for the team in South Africa. Though India lost the series, Ganguly accumulated the most runs on the scoring chart. After his successful Test comeback he was recalled for the ODI team, as India played host to West Indies and Sri Lanka in back to back ODI tournaments. In his first ODI innings in almost two years, he scored a matchwinning 98. He performed well in both series, averaging almost 70 and won the Man of the Series Award against Sri Lanka.
On 12 December 2007, Ganguly scored his maiden double century of his career while playing against Pakistan. He scored 239 runs in the first innings of the third and final Test match of the series. He was involved in a 300 run partnership for the fifth wicket with Yuvraj Singh. Ganguly remained prolific in both Test and ODI cricket in the year 2007. He scored 1106 Test runs at an average of 61.44 (with three centuries and four fifties) in 2007 to become the second highest run-scorer in Test matches of that year after Jacques Kallis. He was also the fifth highest run-scorer in 2007 in ODIs, where he scored 1240 runs at an average of 44.28.
In February 2008, Ganguly joined as the captain of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) team, owned by Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan. On 18 April 2008, Ganguly led the KKR, in the IPL Twenty20 cricket match. They had a 140 run victory over Bangalore Royal Challengers captained by Rahul Dravid and owned by Vijay Mallya. Ganguly opened the innings with Brendan McCullum and scored 10 runs while McCullum remained unbeaten, scoring 158 runs in 73 balls. On 1 May, in a game between the Knight Riders and the Rajasthan Royals, Ganguly made his second T20 half century, scoring 51 runs off of 39 balls at a strike rate of 130.76. In his innings, Ganguly hit four 4s and two sixes, topping the scorers list for the Knight Riders.
In October 2008, Ganguly announced that the Test series against Australia starting in October 2008 would be his last and stated “To be honest, I didn’t expect to be picked for this series. Before coming here, [at the conference] I spoke to my team-mates and hopefully I will go out with a winning knock.” Ganguly played in every game of the four-Test series and amassed 324 runs at an average of 54.00. While playing the second Test match of the series in Mohali, Ganguly scored his final test century. In the Fourth and final Test, with India needing one wicket to secure a victory, the Indian captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, invited Ganguly to lead the side in the field for the final time. India regained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, winning the series 2–0.
In May 2009, Ganguly was removed from the captaincy of the KKR for IPL 2009, and was replaced by McCullum. The decision was questioned by media and other players of the team, when KKR finished at the bottom of the ranking table with three wins and ten losses. He played for the Ranji cup in the Bengal team in October 2009. Ganguly scored 110 in the match against Delhi team, and was involved in a partnership of 222 runs with Wriddhiman Saha. In the third season of Indian Premier League, Ganguly was once again given the captaincy of Kolkata Knight Riders, after the team ended at the bottom in season 2. The coach John Buchanan was also replaced by new coach Dav Whatmore.
Statistics about Ganguly show that he was the seventh Indian cricketer to have played 100 Test matches, the 4th highest overall run scorer for India in Tests, and the fourth Indian to have played in more than 300 ODIs. In terms of overall runs scored in ODIs, Ganguly is the second among Indians after Sachin Tendulkar (who has the most ODI runs) and the fifth overall. He has scored 16 centuries in Test matches and 22 in ODIs. He is also one of only eight batsmen to score more than 10,000 runs in ODIs. Along with Tendulkar, Ganguly has formed the most successful opening pair in One Day Cricket, having amassed the highest number of century partnerships (26) for the first wicket. Together, they have scored more than 7000 runs at an average of 48.98, and hold the world record for creating most number of 50-run partnership in the first wicket (44 fifties). Ganguly became the fourth player to cross 11,000 ODI runs, and was the fastest player to do so in ODI cricket, after Tendulkar. As of 2006, he is the only Indian captain to win a Test series in Pakistan (although two of the three Tests of that series was led by Rahul Dravid). He is also one of the three players in the world to achieve amazing treble of 10,000 runs, 100 wickets and 100 catches in ODI cricket history, the others being Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya.