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Don't forget Sourav Ganguly's swan-song

india Updated: Aug 10, 2006 16:28 IST
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August 3, 2005. In the tri-series encounter at Dambulla, Sourav Ganguly's 33rd run is a single off Pacemen Dilhara Fernando. Nothing special about the stroke but the loud applause that greeted the run signalled an important milestone for the Indian skipper.

The Southpaw became only the third cricketer in the world to complete 10,000 runs in the ODIs. It was 33-year-old Sourav's 272nd match and he joined Sachin Tendulkar and Inzamam-ulul-Haq in an exclusive company.

The day should have signalled the start of another glorious era. Tragically, it signalled the end of it.

Sourav made the highest score (51) of the Indian innings in a losing cause and, more importantly, it turned out to be his last ODI half-century. Fate, and politics, allowed him just seven innings thereafter and he did no good to his career by accumulating just 105 runs.
 
Considering all that has happened on and off the field since then, does the Indian captain merit another chance to showcase his skill?

Going by the reports, there is a feeling among the selectors that Sourav is still good enough to be part of the 30 probables for the Champions Trophy. He always was. But with things looking so bleak after Dalmiya's re-election, even this small mercy may have given Sourav-backers a new hope.

Champions' performer:

If the past record in a tournament is any indication, Sourav wins hands down for a place in the team for the ICC Champions Trophy. After all, the Bengal player has been India's best performer in this tournament with a staggering average of 74.

Sourav in Champions trophy

Innings

Runs

Highest

Avg

100s/50s

11

665

141*

74

3/3

Three centuries and three half-centuries in eleven ODI innings can do credit to any batsman.

To cap it, all of Sourav's centuries have come against stronger teams - South Africa, New Zealand and England, and ever since the inaugural one in 1998/99 in Bangladesh, the former Indian captain has been a top performer in all the four editions.

Sourav in different editions of the Champions trophy

Venue

Season

Runs

Avg

100s/50s

Bangladesh

1998/99

84

42

0/1

Kenya

2000/01

348

116

2/1

Sri Lanka

2002/03

143

71.5

1/0

England

2004

90

45

0/1

If we compare Sourav with other regular top-four players who will be playing in Champions Trophy, the Bengal batsman appears to be the best on form and experience.

For players with five innings or more, only Sehwag and Dravid have average above fifty in the tournament where one mistake can knock the teams out.

India's top four in Champions trophy (Minimum five innings)

Player

Innings

Runs

Avg

100s/50s

Sehwag

7

298

59.60

1/1

Dravid

10

442

55.25

0/4

Tendulkar

10

359

44.87

1/1

Yuvraj

7

217

31.00

0/2

Experience, not form is the virtue:

When Sehwag and Kaif were going through a rough patch, they were given umpteen opportunities to redeem themselves.

After all, form is temporary but class is permanent, as Vivian Richards once famously remarked in defense of Gordon Greenidge, who had just hit a double-century after a prolonged slump.

Then why not extend the same courtesy to Sourav Ganguly. Unless somebody is afraid that Dada might play a great knock, which he is quite capable of, and cement his place for a season or two!

Sourav may not have been successful in recent outings in county cricket, but that may have more to do with a 'mind in turmoil' situation. Things in cricket are known to change with just one great knock.

Both Laxman and Dravid can testify to a tremendous partnership in March 2001, which saved the career of Laxman and rekindled Dravid's aura.

Tamed Sourav:

Dada may have a rebellious streak that was evident in his handling of events during a chequered captaincy career, but he looks to have resigned himself to new realities.

It is highly unlikely that the tamed tiger any longer harbours captaincy ambitions and will fuel feuds among the squad. Dravid is the undisputed leader of a bunch of hungry youngsters, and might continue to be well after the World Cup.

But then some experience will always help. Even if Sourav is a part of the bench strength during the Champions Trophy, his inputs could turn out to be handy. After all, the man is a wily schemer of opponents and can really test their nerves.

For this quality alone, if not for his services to the Indian cricket, the Indian captain deserves, even if it turns out to be, the one last shot at glory.

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