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HindustanTimes Sun,13 Jul 2014
Ganguly: Bengal's greatest cricketer
PTI
New Delhi, October 07, 2008
First Published: 19:01 IST(7/10/2008)
Last Updated: 19:03 IST(7/10/2008)

Born into the famous Ganguly family in Behala, Sourav Ganguly is the greatest cricketer Bengal has produced and the most successful captain India ever had.

Be it the dance on the Lord's balcony or plotting Australia's downfall in the historic 2001 series in India, the 'God on the off-side' has done things his own way.

More often than not he has drawn flak for his aggression but that has hardly diminished his growing band of admirers.

His average of 41.74 in Tests and 41.02 in one-dayers prove beyond doubt his ability to acclimatise to both forms of the game.

The southpaw has 6888 runs to his credit from 109 Tests spanning 180 innings. He has scored 15 centuries and 34 fifties with the 239 against Pakistan in Bangalore being the highest.

In ODIs, Ganguly proved even more effective, plundering 11,363 runs from 300 innings (311 ODIs). The fifth highest run-getter for India and seventh batsman in the world to have crossed the 10,000 runs in ODIs, Ganguly has 22 hundreds and 72 half-centuries to his credit with the highest being 183.

He has also proved successful with the ball. His deceptive pace helped him pick up 32 wickets in Tests at an economy rate of 3.23 and 100 scalps in ODIs at 5.06. He has career-best figures of 5/16 in ODIs and 3/28 in Tests.

However, his greatest success lay in his leadership quality, having successfully managed to galvanise a bunch of talented individuals to forge a winning combination in the aftermath of the match-fixing fiasco that threatened to rip apart the fabric of Indian cricket.

The 'Prince of Kolkata' guided India to 21 wins from 49 matches before getting the sack in 2005.

It was during his tenure that India started winning Test matches abroad on a regular basis.

But few gave it a thought that Ganguly would one day become India's most successful Test captain when he was thrown into the midst of international cricket, debuting in an ODI against the West Indies in Brisbane on January 11, 1992.

The 20-year-old was considered fragile for the rigours of international cricket. Others thought he had an attitude problem and was unceremoniously dumped from the squad.

Having spent four years in the wilderness and performing consistently in the domestic season, Ganguly suddenly got the call for the series against England that would prove to be the turning point.

His hundred on Test debut against England made critics sit up and take notice.

The commerce graduate from Kolkata's St Xavier's College forged one of the most devastating partnership in ODIs with Sachin Tendulkar at the top of the order.

Though born into a rich business family that owned one of the largest printing presses in the region, Ganguly never had airs. What separated him from others was the passion and commitment that made even hard core professionals like Steve Waugh flinch.

But his batting, always under the scanner even when he was scoring, was used as a weapon to leave him out after relationship broke down with coach Greg Chappell in 2006.

His epitaph had been written and all that was left was to consign him to the cobwebs of history.

But none could break his determination and Ganguly not only made it to the squad when India went to South Africa in 2006-07, but also emerged the highest Indian scorer in the series.

Married to Odissi danseuse Dona and with a beautiful daughter Sana, a much mellowed Ganguly announced his retirement in Bangalore on Tuesday.

One expected a slam bang approach from the man who would not take things lying down. But times have changed, and none other than Ganguly had come to realise that.


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