How time changes things — the last two times he came here, he left as a pauper, but now he is back to this coastal city truly as a prince.
Sourav Ganguly was woefully short of runs in 2001 during the series against Australia and again in 2005 when Pakistan were touring. On both occasions, the city formerly known as Waltair hosted ODIs and Ganguly got nine in each of them.
The second failure was followed a by a ban on him for his team's slow over-rate and soon after that, Ganguly lost the captaincy and subsequently his place in the team. Now the wheel has come a full circle.
Ganguly drew the loudest cheers from the hundreds who crowded the stadium to watch India practice on Friday; in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, he was clearly the No. 1 star of the team.
He is also probably the most dependable batsman of the side in the one-day scheme of things when Tendulkar is not around, and certainly the most consistent one since he came back with a 98 against the West Indies in Nagpur.
Ganguly moved about oozing a calm confidence that comes only with success, always ringed by circles of policemen, fans and media people
around him when he came out of the nets or headed towards the car.
It reminded the onlooker of the days when he had cocooned himself from everything, silently nurturing his dream of coming back to the
biggest stage. The buzz around him had completely died out. Now he is back, and with him the frenzy that used to accompany him.
Ganguly would not have possibly come back to the team had Suresh Raina or Mohammad Kaif got runs in South Africa. Still, not many had backed him to succeed when he boarded the plane to take on the rampaging South African fast bowlers.
He braved all that, with luck, pluck and sheer ability. So much so that from being reduced to a virtual non-entity, he has reclaimed his stature of being the principal batsman of the team in one-day cricket.
This port city had witnessed Ganguly’s misery in days when he was actually struggling — he had to go through the ignominy of being booed too. Now the city has welcomed him back with the adulation reserved for true heroes. How time changes things!