8th July is the birthday of one of India’s most stylish left handers and a great captain Sourav Ganguly. Ganguly was one of the world’s best batsmen during the late 90s and early 2000 and proved himself to be an ODI legend.
He developed a formidable opening partnership with Sachin Tendulkar and himself scored more than 10,000 ODI runs and 22 ODI hundred. His batting record in test matches was not as great as he mostly batted in number five and six and had to bat with the tail in many occasions. However, in test match cricket his biggest contribution was to change of outlook for the Indian team as the captain. At the time of his retirement, his 21 test win as captain was an Indian record which was later broken by MS Dhoni. However, some of those wins were memorable and also came on foreign soil after a huge gap.
Ganguly started his test captaincy with a win over Bangladesh in their inaugural test match. It was a tight match and Ganguly along with Sunil Joshi had to arrest an Indian collapse. Thanks to a good performance from the bowlers in the second innings, India ended with a 9-wicket victory.
Ganguly’s third test victory came at the Eden Gardens against the mighty Aussies in a memorable encounter where India stopped the Australia Juggernaut after 16 consecutive test win with a wonderful coming from behind victory after following on thanks to Harbhajan Singh, VVS Laxman, and Rahul Dravid. In the very next test, India again beat Australia in a very tight match by just 2 wickets and got an unlikely 2-1 series win.
Ganguly’s next significant win came at Kandy when he guided an injury-ridden team to victory with a brilliant unbeaten 98 on the 4th innings. India’s next test match win on foreign soil was also a notable one as the victory in Port of Spain was India’s first test win in the Caribbean after 26 years. Although India lost the series 2-1 after being 1-0 up with that win.
In their next assignment in England, Ganguly again led India to a test win at Headingley, Leeds and ended the series 1-1. This was India’s first test win on English soil in 16 years. In the winter of 2003, India went to Australia to play a very strong opposition however Ganguly set the tone with a brilliant 144 in the first test at Brisbane which ended in a draw. In the second test, India and Ganguly got one of their most significant away test wins thanks to a Rahul Dravid master class and Ajit Agarkar magic. India again returned with a 1-1 result and retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
In 2014, India went to Pakistan after 15 years and recorded their first ever test match win in Pakistan. Although Ganguly did not play due to an injury, he returned in the third test to lead his team to a 2-1 series victory, the first ever test series win for India in Pakistan.
In his last six test wins as captain, two came in Bangladesh, two in Zimbabwe and two in his home ground. However, even after he was removed from the captaincy his legacy remained and he is always celebrated as the first Indian captain to show how to win abroad regularly. MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli are carrying that legacy and taking it to new heights.