The God of the off-side, Sourav Ganguly, has officially called it stumps! While his die-hard fans were hoping to see him make yet another comeback with the Indian Premier League 6, Dada, as he is fondly called, has opted out of the tournament and has asked his franchise Pune Warriors India not to consider him for the next season!
The southpaw has chosen to bid adieu on his own terms, leaving behind a legacy that will live on in cricket records and, not to mention, in the hearts and minds of the many Gangulians, myself being one.
Dada has not only been an iconic cricketer, but a true warrior. He is the fastest cricketer to reach 7000, 8000 and 9000 runs in ODI cricket. Not only with his batting, Ganguly has made a mark as a captain as well! Out of the 49 Test matches played under his captaincy from 2000-2005, India won 21 and lost 13 of them. Just to remind you, out of these 21 wins, 11 were registered at away venues!
Winning overseas was never India’s forte; whenever the team left for an overseas tournament, the writing was already on the wall. However, under Dada’s leadership, the team learnt that giving up was never an option. I still remember watching a clip where they showed how Ganguly, standing in the slips, demoralised the Aussies by shouting and taunting the batsmen, giving them a taste of their own medicine! This was Dada!
The usually defendant Indian team now learnt what aggression is! If Andrew Flintoff took off his shirt and celebrated his victory against India at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Sourav Ganguly gave it back to him at Lord’s! Rest as they say, is history!
Even when he donned the captain’s cap in 2000, the match-fixing cloud was hovering over the Indian team! Not only did Dada manage to reassure the fans that his team was clean, he instilled a sense of belief and unity in the team itself! Remember how the team formed a huddle?
However, a story does not become history without a tragedy! Greg Chappell became the Indian Cricket team’s coach in 2005 and perhaps his approach differed than Ganguly’s! Owing to this rift, Dada was shown the door. Nevertheless, the Bengal Tiger made a wonderful comeback and made it clear to his detractors that he is here to say! He left the game on his own terms in 2008 and scored a century against the mighty Aussies in the last test series he played, signing off on a high!
Throughout his career, Dada has been accused of not tackling the bouncers well. Ricky Ponting, a great cricketer himself, said that it is not necessary for a cricketer to have all shots up his sleeve, but to be able to overcome those shortcomings and score over 10000 runs speaks for what Dada was capable of!
After his retirement, IPL was the tournament his fans got to see him in action! But now that he has called it a day from the domestic formats as well, a void has been created that can never be filled! The curse of being Sourav Ganguly is that despite such a glorious career, he is remembered more for his controversies than his achievements!
He played the most exquisite square cuts, square drives and cover drives! His leadership qualities and never-say-die attitude will always inspire his fans throughout the world!
Being a Gangulian, what I will miss the most is skipping a heartbeat when Dada came down the pitch to hit a six over the long-on! We are sure we will see him in the commentary box and handling administrative post in the BCCI, if not on the field.
Thank you, Sourav Ganguly for all the unforgettable moments you gave! Dadagiri never ends!