Many refer to him as the “Bengal Tiger”. For some, he is the “Prince of Kolkata”. But what he is most famous as is “Dada”. Dada generally means elder brother in Bengali and in colloquial terms, it also refers to as don. And Sourav Ganguly is rightly called the “Dada” of Indian cricket.
Counted among one of the most successful Indian captains, Ganguly still remains one of the most talked-about former cricketers in world cricket.
However, it was not a fairytale story for Ganguly where everything clicked right from the word go. After making his international debut in 1992 during an ODI in Brisbane against the West Indies, the stylish left-handed batsman had to wait for almost four years to play another game for India.
He, alongwith Rahul Dravid, made Test debut at the iconic Lord’s in 1996 and Ganguly scored a century at the Home of Cricket. Rest, they say, is history. With that brilliant knock of 131, Ganguly announced his arrival in international cricket like a lion hungry for prey. During his playing days, he was considered to be the god of off-side, playing those stylish cover drives and cut shots which mesmerised many in the cricketing circuit.
During his batting, whenever he used to step out to a spinner, it was almost certain that the bowler could do nothing but concede a monstrous six — “a biggie” in terms of former commentator Tony Greig.
However, the thing which separated Ganguly from other Indian cricketers was the aggresiveness, the bold nature and the never giving-up attitude with which he played. He was hit on numerous occasions by ferocious bouncers from Shoaib Akhtar but the left-handed batsman never gave up. In fact, the Rawalpindi Express recently admitted that Ganguly was probably the bravest batsmen he ever bowled to.
But, more than the batsman, Ganguly is known to people as more the captain. Ganguly became the skipper of the Indian team when the side was facing some really tough times following the match-fixing scandal. He was only in his mid 20s when he had to step in to become the leader of the side which already had greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble.
However, he brought in a new energy within the team which encouraged every player to go for the kill and never give up.
Unlike other previous Indian captains who believed aggression is to be shown through performance and not words, here was Ganguly who was ready to take on teams and make them have a taste of their own medicine. His aggresion and antics were all on display and he never shied away from showing his emotions.
During Australia’s historic tour to India in 2001, he even made Steve Waugh wait for the toss — something which annoyed the then Australian skipper.
He was someone who always led from the front and instilled belief in the team that they are not just winners at home but could win on foreign soil as well. He captained India to 11 Tests wins in 28 overseas Tests, which included victories in Australia and Pakistan as well.
It was under his captaincy only that players like Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan etc turned from into genuine match-winners. He provided them with the opportunity to play their natural game without any fear of losing their spot.
Many in the contemporary times believe that it was Ganguly only who made the team a force to reckon with.
“My biggest legacy is that we left a unit that believed it could win away,” said Ganguly recently. And it was carried brilliantly by MS Dhoni who led India to victory in the 2007 World T20, 2011 World Cup and 2013 Champions Trophy.
Just like he waved his shirt from the Lord’s balcony after the NatWest Trophy to stamp India’s authority, Ganguly still continues to boss the Indian cricket — now in the capacity of BCCI President. And all cricket fans hope that he takes Indian cricket to new heights of glory in the coming days as well.
Happy Birthday Dada.