Sourav Ganguly announced his retirement from cricket thereby bringing an end to an illustrious career that spanned over 12 years. During these 12 years, the country and the world saw India rise from the ashes and reach the pinnacle of success in both forms of cricket.
Sourav Ganguly scripted history in his debut test match at Lords against England where he went on to score a ton. It was the same match where, Rahul Dravid, another debutant missed his ton by 4 runs and was out for 96. Both these batsmen made fabulous starts to their career and went on to create many more records in the years that followed.
Sourav Chandidas Ganguly started his test career on June 20th, 1996, and ended it in November 2008, a full 12 years which saw his cricketing career complete a circle. A left-handed batsman, Ganguly’s first test innings announced his arrival in an emphatic manner. He left some fond memories in the minds of people watching that his debut test match with some classical ‘southpaw’ shots which bore the watermark of timings and placement, aspects which were lauded by his counterparts too.
Ganguly cemented his place in the Indian cricket team due to his sheer timing and appetite to score runs. He emerged as an effective opening batsman and along with Sachin Tendulkar, he scripted many centuries opening partnerships in the one day format of the game. His gift of timing the cricket ball with clinical precision tormented many an opposition’s bowling attacks inside the first 15 overs restriction. He scored 16 test hundreds and double the number of half-centuries in his test career.
Watching a south paw bat is always a pleasure and a feast to the eyes. There is a certain élan with which they bat and numerous batsmen have proven this true, be it David Gower or Alan Border. The same could be said about Sourav Ganguly when he effortlessly timed the bowl with the least of power through the offside filed for four.
Sourav’s strength was his Hand-Eye coordination. Not the best movers of his feet, he made up for this through his timing which brought him loads of runs. His drives effortlessly pierced the field on the offside and when he was on song, he was the ‘king of the offside’ to say the least. Bowlers plotted numerous manoeuvres to get him but he rendered all of them futile with his timing and adjustment. Not only was he a good player of pace bowling he was equally effective against the spinners. No matter how big a cricket ground, Sourav cleared its great felicity by dancing down the track against the spinners. He also proved to be a handy bowler with his medium-pace bowling which proved nagging on many occasions, one such being Sahara Cup against Pakistan where he bamboozled them and picked 5 wickets for a paltry 16 runs.
Apart from leaving his impression on the batting front he proved to be one of the most successful captain of India. Hailed by his team mates as ‘Dada’, credit goes to him for bringing a bunch of youngsters such as Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and others alike in the Indian team and rejuvenating the entire unit. His leadership skills reflected in the fact that he not only chose his players but gave them confidence by backing them in tight situations. The result of the effort is the present day Indian cricketing outfit which has dethroned the mighty Australians and have reigned supreme in the toughest of situations. Zaheer and Yuvraj have become torchbearers of the Indian cricket team and it is pretty clear that the team now looks a young and charged unit.
But Ganguly had his cup of woes too and it spilled over when Greg Chappell took over as the coach of India. Friction surfaced between the two and ended up in an acrimonious spat between him and the coach. Very often he was snubbed as a batsman who played for himself rather than the team. His form went through a rough patch that saw him left out of the team but the fighter that Sourav is, he went through the grind and found his place back in the side.
It won’t be wrong to say that his cricketing life went through a complete circle where he touched the zenith of success as a batsman and a captain by scoring several centuries and leading the side to victory on numerous occasions and nadirs where he lost his captaincy and place in the side.
He would be remembered as an individual who added a tooth to a rather innocuous side, a captain who instilled aggression and self-belief in the team. He might have bid adieu to the world of cricket but he has made sure that the Indian team’s future is bright for many days to come!