It's anybody's guess - What would have happened to the Pandavas at the Kurukshetra without Arjun? They wouldn't have stood a chance of winning the Mahabharata.
It's a similar story with Team India now touring the African continent. As Team India suffer disgraceful defeats in South Africa, it's a good time to see and evaluate who could be Arjun for the distressed men in blue. And what better way to do this than with some statistical enlightenment.
So, who do you think is the most successful Indian batsman in one-day matches against SA? It's not Tendulkar nor Sehwag. It's not even Dravid or Yuvraj. It is someone we least expect at this juncture - it's our very own and beleagured prince of Kolkota, Sourav Ganguly.
Sample this. In 26 matches against South Africa, Ganguly has scored 1,240 runs at an average of 53.91 with three 100s and eight 50s. The next best record is of Tendulkar's who has scored 1,399 runs in 47 matches at an ordinary average of 29.76 with three 100s and 14 half centuries!
Without doubt, Ganguly's dominance of the Proteas has been supreme but ironically he doesn't figures in Team India's ODI squad. While Dada slogs in the domestic circuit, less worthy people have made it to the team, and it is hardly surprising that they are faltering with sublime consistency. Having denied him a place earlier, Ganguly should have been the appropriate replacement for an injured Dravid, and not Laxman.
Voices have been raised from time to time for the inclusion of Ganguly into the team. Most recently by Jagmohan Dalmiya and Brinda Karat. Theirs as well as Ganguly's own efforts and dogged perseverence paid off as the former India captain was included in the side for the Test series against South Africa that was announced on Thursday.
Now the pertinent question is, if Ganguly can be considered for the Test team then why not for the shorter version of the game? Isn't he a far better one-day player than a Test player?
Ganguly has scored 10,123 runs in 279 matches with an average of 40.65, next only to Tendulkar. But the 22 centuries that he has scored, India has won on 18 occasions, giving him a success rate of 81.08 per cent compared to 70 per cent for Tendulkar, whose 28 centuries out of 40 have won us matches!
For all Indian players who have scored more than 10 centuries, Ganguly leads the list with the highest success rate. In the cricketing world, of all players who have scored more than 20 centuries, Ganguly comes second after Sanath Jayasuriya, who has a success rate of 86.36 per cent with 19 wins from 22 centuries.
When Ganguly was dropped from the team, he wasn't performing well. But same is the case with Dravid, Sehwag, Kaif and Tendulkar who have not been doing well at all lately! Why shouldn't they be dropped from team as well. Ganguly on the other hand has slogged it hard in the domestic circuit and warrants an entry into the ODI squad.
Apparently, issues other than performance and capability are at play in the selection process. It's no secret that Guru Greg has a distinct dislike for the former skipper. But the coach hasn't produced results himself.
It's often quoted in cricket that form is temporary and class is permanent. There is no dearth of class in Ganguly. What he needs is some quality time in the middle and runs would begin to flow as they did in the past.
While the Bengal Tiger has suffered a lot, so has Team India. It's high time that the southpaw is inducted into the team for the shorter version of cricket as well. The selectors also must keep cricket fans in mind, who have been denied the feast on the off side, not to mention his 'secular' trademark stride off the crease to loft the spinners for sixes.
Dada, India hasn't forgotten you.
Email Kamal K Agrawal: email@example.com