5 Indian captains of the 21st century and their contributions to Indian cricket
Captains are always remembered for their contributions to the game of cricket. Cricket captains are the ones who are responsible for getting the best out of every individual cricketer.
One always measures the success rate of the captain depending upon how the players managed to perform and evolve as a cricketer under a particular captain. Good captains share knowledge and their experiences with the team and transform the team into a well-oiled unit.
India has been a tad lucky and blessed to witness five great captains in the 21st century. Here is a take on 5 Indian captains of the 21st century and their contribution to Indian cricket.
#1 Sourav Ganguly
The beginning of the 21st Century was a significant chapter in the rise of Indian cricket. Indian cricket was in complete disarray after the spot-fixing scandal that hit the team at the fag-end of the 20th century.
The sport had started to lose its charm and interest in India among its greatest worshippers –the cricket fans. It needed really something extraordinary and special effort to bring back the honesty and integrity to the game that had been questioned after the tainted allegations on the cricketers.
At this crucial juncture, Indian cricket witnessed the beginning of one of the most decorated and celebrated chapters of Indian cricket-“The Ganguly Era”. After the legendary Sachin Tendulkar stood down from captaincy during the turn of the century, Sourav Ganguly was appointed at the helm of affairs to lead Indian cricket.
Dada's captaincy tenure was the part of India’s golden era in the history of Indian cricket. He protected the interests of the game in tumultuous times.
Sourav Ganguly will always be remembered in the pages of Indian history as a captain who sowed the seeds to kick-start a new era in Indian cricket. His name will be long cherished for the fact that it was he who invested in shaping up a new young team that contained some of the future stars such as Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag etc.
Ganguly was an aggressive captain who backed his youngsters and gave them the freedom they required at the early stages of their career to perform according to the team requirements.
He was probably the first Indian captain who set the benchmark to be fearless and aggressive on the field. He had this dashing unique ability to get under the skin of the opposition players that landed him quite a few times in the match referee’s cabin for this attitude. Some of such instances of these can be recalled through acts like waving his shirt on Lord's balcony or making the Australian skipper Steve Waugh wait at the toss for a long time during the 2001 Border Gavaskar series. It definitely though proved to be beneficial to Indian cricket in the long-term interests of the team.
India’s first foreign coach, John Wright was also appointed during Ganguly’s regime. They both had a memorable partnership which saw India scale new heights. He also stressed on improving the fitness levels and fielding abilities of players.
Ganguly’s tenure as a captain also saw the beginning of Fab 5 in Indian cricket in the form of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag. It was through this strong collaboration that went on in history to register some of the most memorable wins for India.
Under his captaincy, India also started performing outside Asia and gave the oppositions a run for their money by competing in away Test series.
The Border Gavaskar Trophy in 2001 in India witnessed the start of Ganguly Era. Ganguly fought with the selectors for the inclusion of the young off-spinner “Turbanator” from Punjab for the series. He backed Harbhajan Singh to spearhead the spinning attack in absence of the lead spinner Anil Kumble and the youngster reposed this faith by running through the touring Australians and picked up 32 wickets in the 3 Match Test series which India won by a margin of 2-1.
The touring Australians were considered to be the best touring team in the world in those days and were on a 15 match win streak in Test cricket. India managed to put this streak to a halt in Kolkata with a win that is considered as India’s greatest Test win.
He made the opposition dance to his tunes through his captaincy performances and the numbers speak for themselves in this regard. During his captaincy tenure, India won 21 out of 49 Test matches, making Ganguly one of the most successful Indian Test captains.
He also led India to 11 overseas Test wins which are the most in Indian cricketing history. He also led India to the final of the 2003 World Cup where they were defeated by a strong Australian unit.
Ganguly will always be remembered as a captain for making careers of young players, leading the team to victory in many memorable away Test wins and changing the face of Indian cricket forever.