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Decades change but Dadagiri remains constant, Happy Birthday Sourav Ganguly

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Guwahati: One of India’s greatest cricket captains, Sourav Ganguly celebrates his 49th birthday today (June 8). Lovingly known as Dada, he has been that one reason who has changed the entire perspective of playing and watching cricket. 

Ganguly is given the credit for turning the fate of the Indian cricket team around after the 2000 match-fixing controversy. He transformed India into a side of match-winners, playing an important role in the coming of talent like Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, MS Dhoni and Irfan Pathan apart from seniors like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.

Usually, on his birthday, the fans gather around his Behala residence in Kolkata to catch a glimpse of their beloved Maharaj and shower him with wishes. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has called for a muted celebration.

In a recent interview Ganguly said, “When Indian cricket was down, I became the captain. When the Indian cricket board was in the doldrums, they made me the President. I look at it this way… When things get tough they feel they should dial Ganguly’s number. Just stand in front and deliver!”

Here are some of the most defining moments of Sourav Ganguly the captain:

NetWest Trophy 2002:

The victory in the tri-series was one of the most significant in Indian cricket history. India started the series with a brilliant victory over the host nation England, chasing down 272 with ease to win by six wickets. Ganguly led team India had a comfortable path to the final, winning both England and Sri Lanka.

However, in the final, England put up a massive total of 325 batting first with captain Nasser Hussain and opener Marcus Trescothick scoring centuries. Ganguly gave India a quick start, scoring a fifth before India wentfrom 106/0 to 146/5 and all hope seemed lost. But youngsters Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif smashed 121 runs for the sixth wicket and the final two-wicket win in the last over led Ganguly to take off his shirt on the balcony of Lord’s in celebration.

Champions Trophy joint-champions 2002:

Months following the Natwest triumph, Sourav Ganguly led team India headed to the island nation Sri Lanka to take part in the ICC Champions Trophy. In 2000, under the captancy of Ganguly, the Indian team had come very close to winning its first ever Champions Trophy, only to lose to New Zealand in the final.

The men in blue won a victory over Zimbabwe by 14 runs, England by 8 wickets and South Africa by ten runs in the semi final. However, the final ended up being a damp squib. With Sri Lanka playing their 50-overs, the first final was rescheduled because of the rain to take place on the reserve day. Even the reserve day was washed out, making India and Sri Lanka the joint winners.

Drawing the Test series in Australia 2003/04:

Following a devastating tour of 1999 where team India lost without winning a single match in the Test series and had lost 13 out of their 14 matches in the tri nation series, Led by Ganguly’s remarkable ton in the opening Test at the Gabba, followed by Rahul Dravid’s double century and VVS Laxman’s hundred in Adelaide, India stunningly was able to draw the 2003-04 Border-Gavaskar Trophy 1-1.

Series win over Australia in 2001:

The series win under the captaincy of Sourav Ganguly is regarded as one of the finest in the history of Test cricket. The men in blue managed to stop Steve Waugh led Australia at the ‘final frontier’ after they had won 16 Tests in a row, which included the first one of this series in Mumbai by 10 wickets. In the second Test in Kolkata, India followed-on after Australia put up 445 in the first innings, despite of Harbhajan’s hat-trick as the hosts were all out for 171.
The series seemed out of hands but Dada decided to send VVS Laxman at number 3 slot in the second session with Laxman scoring 281. Laxman joint hands with Rahul Dravid’s 180 took India to 657/7 in the second innings. Harbhajan got another five-wicket haul in the second innings as India won the second Test by 171 runs.

Ganguly led team India carried on the impetus into the third Test in Chennai, which they were able to win by two wickets to seal the series.

World Cup finalists in 2003:

The world cup 2003 was the pinnacle of three years of hard work for Sourav Ganguly. Team India came to the world cup with a poor series in New Zealand and kicked off with a loss at the hands of defending champions Australia early in the tournament.

Ashish Nehra’s career best 6/23 annihilated the three lions ahead of the high voltage India-Pakistan game saw Sachin Tendulkar play one of ODI cricket’s finest knocks as India took their record to 4-0 over their arch foes. In the Super Sixes, the men in blue hardly broke a sweat against Kenya or Sri Lanka, and even though New Zealand came quite close, Sourav Ganguly’s side clipped the Kiwi wings and went into the semi-final, where they beat Kenya by 91 runs.

The Australian side, however, disappointed Ganguly led side in the final, as they put up a massive score of 359 after batting first. India went on to lose by 125 runs but came out of the tournament with pride.

Many Captains will come and go. But there won’t be another Sourav Ganguly. Happy Birthday Dada. 

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