India tour of England, 1996
Vikram Rathour was back into the pavilion after scoring 15 runs. Nayan Mongia showed some spirit for his well fought 24 but Lewis got the better of him. A wiry boy with a thin fuzz outlining his upper lip was watching the drama unfold from the other end.
It was the infamous collapse of the Indian Batting line up in overseas matches.
The boy thought of guiding the contest from there on. He produced a perfect square cut. Then he shifted his weight on the front foot, and leaned seamlessly. He took the ball on the half volley and his willow did the rest. That was the onset of an epoch of dazzling cover drives. For 435 minutes, only one name dominated the commentary box.
Sourav Chandidas Ganguly
He finished with a test century on the debut. The match ended in a draw. And Ganguly became an inseparable part of the Indian Cricket team. The opening pair of Ganguly and Tendulkar vanquished the bowling attacks of every country for almost a decade. But that is not all, more than just a fine cricketer…Sourav Ganguly was a brilliant captain. Dada took over the captaincy when Indian cricket was in doldrums after the match fixing scandals of 1999-2000.
He was the single biggest reason behind the revival of our cricketing fortunes. He ran the team like a strict disciplinarian but it was the need of the hour as multiple factions were already beginning to plague the Indian team. Dada’s aggression was infectious. He came to the field like a raging bull ever ready to crush his opponents. Indians who played to save matches were now playing to win them. The Kolkata test of 2001 changed the history of Indian cricket. We were now counted amongst the best test playing nations of the world. The might of the Australians was crushed. After that the Kiwis and the English were outdone and all this while new talent came and solidified their place in the Indian Cricket Team. Sourav Ganguly brought in a lot of youngsters and played a key role in encouraging them, the legends of Indian Cricket Team of the current era – Yuvraj, Zaheer, Harbhajan and Sehwag were Ganguly’s discoveries. Even skipper Dhoni was discovered by Ganguly! If you remember. Sourav Ganguly had an uncanny talent of spotting talent from a distance.
The way he sprinted outside the crease and hit the ball out of the stadium will always remain a cricket lover’s delight.
We wish Sourav Ganguly a very long and successful life ahead. We wish him a very happy Birthday!