HBD Ganguly: If there is one captain who has a special place in Indian cricket, it has to be Sourav Ganguly, whose captaincy tenure is one of the most well-documented in recent times. He celebrated his 51st birthday as Dada on July 8. He was the one who planted the seeds of fighting fire with fire against the opponents. Ganguly took over as Indian cricket captain in the aftermath of the 1999 match-fixing scandal.
He was able to construct a squad that was fearsome at home and competitive on abroad trips with the help of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and Anil Kumble, which had not previously been the case.
In this article, we will look at some of the decisions Sourav Ganguly made as captain that proved to be masterstrokes in transforming the face of Indian cricket.
HBD Ganguly: 3 of Sourav Ganguly’s greatest leadership strokes
1) No more hesitant approach
Sourav Ganguly altered the perception of Indian cricket. He emphasised the need of being bold and led by example in this regard. His ability to get under the skin of his opponents spread like wildfire in the mindsets of his teammates, and they were no longer a hesitant side looking to engage.
Under his leadership, the players began to believe in themselves and developed a never-say-die spirit. Under his guidance, India began to win foreign tests and ODIs. To suggest that Ganguly introduced the Indian cricket team to the brand of aggressive cricket, self-belief, and international success would be an understatement.
2) Abandoning regional prejudice in order to include youthful blood and supporting them
Sourav Ganguly had an easy assignment when he took over as captain of Indian cricket, as supporters had lost faith in the team following the match-fixing controversy in 1999. He had a core team of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, and Javagal Srinath, but he had to construct the side from the ground up. He chose to go against the conventional wisdom of selecting players from strong, first-class teams like Mumbai, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, and so on.
He prioritised quality above geography, and even players with unconventional tactics were chosen into the team. Under his captaincy, Sourav Ganguly brought in U-19 World Cup talents like Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif, and reintroduced players like Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, and MS Dhoni despite selectors passing them over.
He also made certain that the youth received a longer rope, since he believed in throwing players into the deep end and forcing them to battle up front, as well as backing them in the event of failure.
3) Promoting MS Dhoni
If there was one move in Indian cricket history that transformed the game forever, it was the elevation of MS Dhoni to No. 3 in ODIs. Dhoni’s first series against Bangladesh in 2004 did not go well, as he only managed to score 0, 12*, and 7, and it appeared like his career was over. However, Ganguly maintained his faith in the kid and decided to give him another chance in the next home series against Pakistan.
The first match was another misery for the Jharkhand youngster, as he recorded another single-digit score. But then came the ODI in Vizag, where Ganguly surprised everyone by promoting Dhoni to No. 3, and the rest is history. He hit 148, and India had discovered its new wicketkeeper-batsman.
Dhoni went on to lead the team to three ICC victories, including the 2007 T20 World Cup, the 2011 ODI World Cup, and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy.
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