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Sourav Ganguly

by Saurabh Sharma Jul 01, 2018 • 07:28 AM
Sourav Ganguly Biography

Some felt he couldn't play the bouncer, others swore that he was God on the off-side; some laughed at his lack of athleticism, others took immense pride in his ability to galvanize a side. Sourav Ganguly's ability to polarise opinion led to one of the most fascinating dramas in Indian cricket. Yet, nobody can dispute that he was India's most successful Test captain - forging a winning unit from a bunch of talented, but directionless, individuals and nobody can argue about him being one of the greatest one-day batsmen of all time.

Sourav Chandidas Ganguly affectionately known as Dada had the distinctive ability to hit powerful shots to the off-side on front and back foot with equal ease. However, early in his career he was not comfortable with the hook and pull, often giving his wicket away with mistiming such shots.

Sourav Ganguly was born on 8th July 1972 in Calcutta, and is the youngest son of Chandidas and Nirupa Ganguly. Chandidas ran a flourishing print business and was one of the richest men in the city. Ganguly had a luxurious childhood and was nicknamed the 'Maharaja', meaning the 'Great King'. Since the favourite sport for the people of Calcutta was the game of football, Ganguly was initially attracted to the game. However, academics came in-between his love for sports and his mother was not very supportive of Ganguly taking up cricket or any other sport as a career. By then, his elder brother Snehasish was already an established cricketer for the Bengal cricket team. He supported Ganguly's dream to be a cricketer and asked their father to get Ganguly enrolled in a cricket coaching camp during his summer holidays.

Despite being right-handed, Ganguly learnt to bat left-handed so he could use his brother's sporting equipment. After he scored a century against the Orissa Under–15 side, he was made captain of St Xavier's School's cricket team and subsequently made his first-class cricket debut for Bengal in 1989, the same year that his brother was dropped from the team.

Following a prolific Ranji season in 1990–91, Ganguly scored three runs in his One Day International (ODI) debut for India against the West Indies in 1992.He was dropped immediately since he was perceived to be "arrogant" and his attitude towards the game was openly questioned. He toiled away in domestic cricket, scoring heavily in the 1993–94 and 1994–95 Ranji seasons. Following an innings of 171 in the 1995–96 Duleep Trophy, he was recalled to the National team for a tour of England in 1996, in the middle of intense media scrutiny. He played in a single ODI, but was omitted from the team for the first Test. However, after teammate Navjot Singh Sidhu left the tour, citing ill-treatment by then captain Mohammad Azharuddin, Ganguly made his Test debut against England in the second test of a three-match series at Lord's Cricket Ground alongside Rahul Dravid. Ganguly scored a century, becoming only the third cricketer to achieve such a feat on debut at Lord's, after Harry Graham and John Hampshire. Andrew Strauss and Matt Prior have since accomplished this feat, but Ganguly's 131 still remains the highest by any batsman on his debut at the ground.

In the next Test match at Trent Bridge he made 136, thus becoming only the third batsman to make a century in each of his first two innings (after Lawrence Rowe and Alvin Kallicharran). He shared a 255-run stand with Sachin Tendulkar, which became at that time the highest partnership for India against any country for any wicket outside India. The Test again ended in a draw, handing England a 1–0 series victory.

Weeks after his successful tour of England, Ganguly eloped with childhood sweetheart Dona Roy. The bride and groom's family were sworn enemies at that point and this news caused uproar between them. However, both families reconciled and a formal wedding was held in February 1997. Same year, Ganguly scored his maiden ODI century by hitting 113, opposed to Sri Lanka's team total of 238. Later that year, he won four consecutive man of the match awards, in the Sahara Cup with Pakistan; the second of these was won after he took five wickets for 16 runs off 10 overs, his best bowling in an ODI. After a barren run in Test cricket his form returned at the end of the year with three centuries in four Tests all against Sri Lanka.

In March 1998 he was part of the Indian team that defeated Australia. In Kolkata, he took three wickets having opened the bowling with his medium pace. Ganguly was part of the Indian team that competed in the 1999 Cricket World Cup in England. During the match against Sri Lanka at Taunton, India chose to bat. After Sadagoppan Ramesh was bowled, Ganguly scored 183 from 158 balls, hitting 17 fours and seven sixes. It became the second highest score in World Cup history and the highest by an Indian in the tournament. His partnership of 318 with Rahul Dravid is the highest overall score in a World Cup and is the second highest in all ODI cricket. In 1999–00, India lost Test series to both Australia and South Africa that involved a combined total of five Tests. Ganguly struggled scoring 224 runs at 22.40, however his ODI form was impressive, with five centuries over the season taking him to the top of the PwC One Day Ratings for batsmen.

In 2000, after the match-fixing scandal by some of the players of the team, Ganguly was named the Captain of the Indian cricket team. The decision was spurred due to Tendulkar stepping down from the position for his health, and Ganguly being the vice-captain at that time. He began well as a captain, leading India to a series win over South Africa in the five-match one day series and led the Indian team to the finals of the 2000 ICC Knock-Out Trophy.

In the next Test match at Trent Bridge he made 136, thus becoming only the third batsman to make a century in each of his first two innings (after Lawrence Rowe and Alvin Kallicharran). He shared a 255-run stand with Sachin Tendulkar, which became at that time the highest partnership for India against any country for any wicket outside India. The Test again ended in a draw, handing England a 1–0 series victory.

Weeks after his successful tour of England, Ganguly eloped with childhood sweetheart Dona Roy. The bride and groom's family were sworn enemies at that point and this news caused uproar between them. However, both families reconciled and a formal wedding was held in February 1997. Same year, Ganguly scored his maiden ODI century by hitting 113, opposed to Sri Lanka's team total of 238. Later that year, he won four consecutive man of the match awards, in the Sahara Cup with Pakistan; the second of these was won after he took five wickets for 16 runs off 10 overs, his best bowling in an ODI. After a barren run in Test cricket his form returned at the end of the year with three centuries in four Tests all against Sri Lanka.

In March 1998 he was part of the Indian team that defeated Australia. In Kolkata, he took three wickets having opened the bowling with his medium pace. Ganguly was part of the Indian team that competed in the 1999 Cricket World Cup in England. During the match against Sri Lanka at Taunton, India chose to bat. After Sadagoppan Ramesh was bowled, Ganguly scored 183 from 158 balls, hitting 17 fours and seven sixes. It became the second highest score in World Cup history and the highest by an Indian in the tournament. His partnership of 318 with Rahul Dravid is the highest overall score in a World Cup and is the second highest in all ODI cricket. In 1999–00, India lost Test series to both Australia and South Africa that involved a combined total of five Tests. Ganguly struggled scoring 224 runs at 22.40, however his ODI form was impressive, with five centuries over the season taking him to the top of the PwC One Day Ratings for batsmen.

In 2000, after the match-fixing scandal by some of the players of the team, Ganguly was named the Captain of the Indian cricket team. The decision was spurred due to Tendulkar stepping down from the position for his health, and Ganguly being the vice-captain at that time. He began well as a captain, leading India to a series win over South Africa in the five-match one day series and led the Indian team to the finals of the 2000 ICC Knock-Out Trophy.

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