"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."
"Yes, it was suggested," responded Ganguly to a question posed by Harsha Bhogle on the tour of Zimbabwe in 2005. The answer left an indelible mark on Ganguly's career, inviting ire from the coach, the board and from every nook and corner. The consequences of that answer tilted Sourav's career into a dark corner, suddenly questions pertaining to his determination, his physical and mental fitness, and his ability as a captain were raised.
It was also pointed out that he played cricket for "financial gains"! Alarming and amazing isn't it? A person who has played for India for that long had to cope with such obnoxious questions. And as if it was not enough, self-bestowed cricket expert and the then selector, Kiran More included Ganguly as a "bowling all rounder" in the Test series that India played against Sri Lanka that year.
After couple of gritty innings, which had spells of dominance over the bowlers, he was expunged without any reason from the Indian team against the tour of England to India that followed. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Kiran More proved Mohinder Amaranth's definition of Indian selectors as "bunch of jokers" right. Though he was picked for the tour of Pakistan, his innings in Karachi were over-shadowed by the animated threesome conversation with Dravid and Chappell in Lahore. After the tour, he was shown the door. Mr More even went to the extent of saying that he won't "pick" Ganguly for the England tour, which he did.
However, the "DADA" we all are familiar with was not going to evaporate without a roar. He is not known for that, his charisma, aggressive nature along with his constant nurturing of optimism are core components of his personality. Any other player who has achieved so much could have silently escaped from the attention and pressure at galore, however he chose otherwise. He withdrew himself from all that and went back to domestic cricket. There he worked on his fitness, his form, technique, replenished the hunger for scoring runs and I dare say, became more "matured".
Few gave him a chance when he was picked on the tour of South Africa. But coming to practice just after he landed in South Africa and the "historic" handshake with "Guru" Greg confirmed the belief that the Indian fans were going to see a different Ganguly.
His weakness against short-pitched stuff has been perennial; but his innings at Johannesburg proved everyone wrong. He didn't run away from the short-pitched deliveries, he fended them; though he bore the brunt of those deliveries on his body, but stood his ground. His innings, especially the six he hit of Ntini gave evidence that the Ganguly who played in England in 1996 was back and more importantly that innings set the tone of the tour.
His performance on the tour of South Africa, earned him a place back in the one-day team, which is currently playing the West Indies. He showed that his form and the "new packaged" Ganguly was not temporary; he spanked the West Indian bowling attack with confidence and ease. Was as active as one can be, in taking singles, hit his trademark four on the off side, and who can forget the three towering sixes… his innings were splendid, played with finesse and included proper short selection. Though there was immense pressure on him before he began his innings, the "Maharaja" has answered his critics and is back with a BANG!
It would be foolish if the selectors don't pick him for the world cup, however it is important that Ganguly regains his lost pride… though he has climbed the first step towards regaining it.
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