Known as the Bengal Tiger of the Indian cricket team, Sourav Ganguly is arguably one of the most successful captains ever in the history of Indian cricket. Born on the 8th of July 1972 in Kolkata, the aggressive left-handed batsman entered the international cricketing arena in 1992 with his ODI debut against West Indies. Ganguly could not make an impression in his debut match and was dropped from the team only to return after four years due to his excellent domestic cricketing credentials.
Sourav Ganguly immediately shot to fame with an excellent 131-run knock in his Test debut against England, becoming only the third cricketer after Harry Graham and John Hampshire to score a century on debut at Lord’s. In the following Test match, he rose above expectations to share a 255-run opening partnership with Sachin Tendulkar, coming up with an outstanding knock of 136 runs. In 1997, Sourav Ganguly opened the Indian innings and came up with a blazing 113-run knock against Sri Lanka to score his maiden ODI century. There was no looking back after that as one of the most sensational cricketing careers was all set to be scripted in bold letters against the backdrop of immense popularity and ugly controversies. During his playing career, Ganguly established himself as one of the world’s leading batsmen earning him the name “Prince of Kolkata” famously given by Geoffrey Boycott.
In the latter half of the year, Ganguly won four consecutive Man of the Match awards in the Sahara Cup against Pakistan which also included some excellent bowling efforts. He ended the year on a high note with three Test centuries against Sri Lanka. In 1998, Sourav Ganguly scaled new heights of success with quite a few impressive performances against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
In 1999 Cricket World Cup, Ganguly set the record for the highest score by an Indian and the second highest ever in world cup history with a blitzkrieg of 183 runs off just 158 balls which is the highest score by an Indian in world cup. He also entered into a 318-run partnership with Rahul Dravid which proved to be the highest ever in world cup and the second highest ever in ODI cricket history. He was especially prolific through the off side, earning the nickname ‘God of the Off-Side’ from Rahul Dravid for his elegant strokeplay square of the wicket and through the covers.
Eventually, the lady luck smiled on him as he was nominated to Captain Indian Cricket team in 2000. History was in the making as Ganguly led India to unchartered territories of success to emerge as one of the most successful captains ever in the international cricketing arena. India made the ICC Knockout tournament finals where Ganguly scored 100s both in Semi-final and Final and till date only man to do so in an ICC event. On November 3rd 2001 he became a proud father of a sweet young girl Sana.
India’s victory against Australia in the 2001 Border-Gavaskar Trophy was a game changer for Indian Cricket as he led the team to stop the Aussie victory march in Kolkata inspite of being followed on in one of the greatest test matches ever played. Later on India went on to win the series by 2-1 after trailing by 0-1 margin.
In 2002, a bunch of young talent was making in-roads in the Indian Cricket team under the super-vision of their Dada (meaning “elder brother” in Bengali) – Sourav Ganguly. The famous Natwest trophy brought joy beyond imagination and confidence to the Indian Cricket team specially the way Final was won. He was hailed by greats in the world for taking a courageous decision of batting first on green wicket under overcast condition against England at Trentbridge, a test match which was won by India eventually.
He led India to the world cup finals in 2003 in South Africa, in pursue he became the only Indian Batsman to score Three Centuries in a Single world cup. During his captaincy between 2000 and 2005, India managed to win 21 out of 49 Test matches including a record of 12 overseas victories. One of the highlights of Ganguly’s career as a skipper includes both Test and ODI series win against Pakistan in Pakistan, which came for the first time in nearly past half a century. Other achievements include India’s victory against Australia in the 2001 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which was another feather in his cap.
Sourav Ganguly made ‘Mother of All Come Back’ into the side for a three-Test series against South Africa in November 2006 and was the most successful batsman in the star – studded Indian batting line –up till his retirement in 2008. During this tenure he scored in maiden test hundred in his home ground at Eden Garden as well his solo double hundred where he scored 239 runs against the arch-rival Pakistan which is the highest score by an Indian Left handed batsman.
He also made a successful comeback in ODIs as well with his excellent form against West Indies and Sri Lanka in January 2007. This led to his inclusion in the 2007 World Cup squad also.
Some of the milestones set by this cricketer include 22 ODI centuries and as many as 20 century opening-partnerships with Sachin Tendulkar. Sourav Ganguly is the third player to score 10,000 ODI runs and second-fastest after Sachin Tendulkar. Ganguly was also awarded with Padma Shri in 2004 for his magnanimous contribution to the world of cricket. During his time, he was the fastest to achieve the milestone of 6000 to 9000 runs. He also holds a unique trio of 10000 Runs, 100 Wickets and 100 Catches in ODI and his Average in Test never went below 40 per innings.
Currently, he is the 8th highest run scorer in One Day Internationals (ODIs) and was the 3rd batsman in history to cross the 10,000 run landmark, after Sachin Tendulkar and Inzamam Ul Haq. Currently Sourav Ganguly is 2nd Highest run scorer for India in ODIs only behind Sachin Tendulkar. In 2002, the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack ranked him the sixth greatest ODI batsman of all time, next to Viv Richards, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Dean Jones and Michael Bevan.
Ganguly joined the Kolkata Knight Riders team as captain for the Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament in 2008 – 10, later took field for Pune Warrior India in 2011- 12.
Ganguly was awarded with the Banga Bibhushan Award from the Government of West Bengal on 20 May 2013.
Along with Harshavardhan Neotia, Sanjiv Goenka and Utsav Parekh, Ganguly is also the co-owner of ATK, a franchise of the Indian Super League, which won the inaugural season in 2014 and repeated the feat again 2016.
© 2017 Sourav Ganguly