Guwahati: Legendary Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly, on Friday, July 8, turned 50 years old. Dada, as Ganguly is popularly known, is currently the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). He took charge at the helm back in 2019 and has worked brilliantly for the well-being of Indian cricket.
In 2001, he guided India to a stupendous 2-1 victory in the home Test series against Steve Waugh’s Australia, who were near-invincible back then. Thereafter, he captained India to the final of the 2003 World Cup, where the Men in Blue lost to the Aussies at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.
Ganguly was dropped from the Indian team for certain reasons but went on to make a comeback. In November 2008, the Bengal-born Ganguly donned the national colours for the last time in a Test match against the Aussies in Nagpur.
In 113 Tests and 311 ODIs, the Prince of Kolkata racked up 7212 and 11363 runs with the help of 38 centuries and 107 half-centuries. Ganguly was no mug with the ball either. He picked up 132 wickets for India at the highest level, including one four-wicket haul and two five-wicket hauls.
Ganguly also plied his trade in the Indian Premier League (IPL). After playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), he represented the now-defunct Pune Warriors. Under his leadership, India scaled a lot of heights.
On Sourav Ganguly’s birthday, let’s look back at some of his scintillating displays with the bat:
1. 131 against England, 1996
Ganguly announced himself in his Test debut with a maiden century against England at the ‘Mecca of cricket’. The Lord’s stadium witnessed the rise of one of the greatest batters as he came out to bat at number three.
Ganguly was fearless and hammered 131 runs which helped India get back into the game. He was resilient, remained at the crease for a long time, and faced 301 deliveries. This knock from a young Ganguly assisted India in saving the Test match.
2. 141* against South Africa, 2000
In the semi-finals of the ICC Knockout Cup in 2000, India faced South Africa. Sourav Ganguly won the toss and chose to bat first, putting himself in charge of the proceedings. Following a solid start, Ganguly compiled a 145-run partnership for the second wicket with Rahul Dravid.
In the death overs, Ganguly decided to unleash an all-out attack on the Proteas and finished unbeaten on 141 runs off 142 deliveries with 11 fours and six sixes to his name. The pressure of the huge target was too much for the South African side as they bundled out for just 200 runs and handed India a 95-run victory.
3. 239 against Pakistan, 2007
In the last game of a three-match Test series against arch-rivals Pakistan, Ganguly played one of the best innings of his life. He came in to bat when India were struggling at 44/2 and played cautiously to steady the innings.
Ganguly then went on to score a massive 239 runs inning which included 30 boundaries and two sixes. The southpaw started strong in the second innings as well but fell 9 runs shy of the century mark. India was only three wickets away from victory when the match was called off due to rain.
4. 153* against New Zealand, 1999
The third One-Day International between India and New Zealand was played on a damp pitch. The Indian batters struggled against Kiwi bowling. And everyone, except Ganguly perished at the top.
Ganguly fought like he always does and scored an unbeaten knock of 153 runs to lead India to a total of 261. During the Kiwi chase, Ganguly dismissed the dangerous Adam Parore which sealed India’s win and his amazing all-around performance helped India to secure the series 2-1.
5. 98* against Sri Lanka, 2001
This particular knock wasn’t Ganguly’s highest or most flamboyant innings but this definitely was an innings that defined his fearless persona. Ganguly was going through a poor run of form, having not scored a single fifty in his previous 13 innings. After losing the first Test, India had to chase down a stiff total of 264 runs in the second innings. The Lankan bowlers, Dilhara Fernando and Chaminda Vaas were bowling as precisely as ever. On his home turf, Muttiah Muralitharan was the most potent threat in the fourth innings.
But Ganguly and his deputy Rahul Dravid overcame all the odds with a 91-run third-wicket stand. Ganguly led the Indian side to a famous victory with a magnificent unbeaten knock of 98 runs, an innings that reflected all the essence of the great legend.