'Only he had the vision to make a team for future': Akmal says India 'still reaping the benefits' of Ganguly's captaincy
It's been 21 long years since Sourav Ganguly became captain of the Indian team, and 16 years since he left the post, but the impact of what he achieved in those five years is still visible in Indian cricket today, feels former Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal. Under Ganguly, the Indian team ushered in a new era, winning matches and series abroad. He led India to the 2002 Natwest Trophy and the Champions Trophy, to go with a runner-up finish at the 2003 World Cup.
The spark Ganguly ignited as India's captain has today transformed into a wildfire as the team continues to achieve great heights in world cricket. Under Virat Kohli, India today have emerged into world beaters, regularly making it to the knockouts of ICC tournaments while having finished as the No. 1-ranked Test side for five straight years.
Akmal, in a conversation with sports presenter Sawera Pasha, was asked by a fan to name one India captain he would have liked to play under, and while the former Pakistan keeper mentioned that did not wish to exactly play under any one skipper, he did reveal his respect and admiration towards Ganguly.
"Not sure if I'd want to play under an India captain but I would certainly want to play against one. I am a huge fan of Sourav Ganguly and his captaincy. Only he had the vision to make an Indian team for the future. The players he brought – Sehwag, Zaheer, Kaif, Dhoni, Yuvraj – they brought India in shape. From there, the Indian team is reaping the benefits. See for yourself, it's still progressing. From there, MS Dhoni took over and now the way Virat Kohli is handling the seat, it's amazing," Akmal said.
Looking back at his career, Akmal pointed out how it was always a herculean task to play against the Indian team from the mid-2000s which boasted a star-studded batting line-up. The Fab Five of Indian cricket, along with the enigmatic MS Dhoni, made India one of the most formidable batting line-ups in the world and Akmal recalled how he would always fret thinking about it.
"My wish was always to play against them and I've enjoyed it too. I used to think that Sehwag has opened, now Dravid has to come, Tendulkar has to come, Laxman will bat and Ganguly himself is there. Next in line was Dhoni, who used to average 50 – so what do we even do? But still, we had to fight and learn and win. The approach and the captaincy Sourav had has gone a long way in