Indian Cricket was a very average side during the 90′s with only a handful of players coming good. We were still the crazy fans back then backing the players. Sachin was immediately idolized by many after his debut and he was worth every bit of their adulation. Though Sachin was a player every one would dream of having in their team, he didn’t have enough support to carry the team forward. That was the time when Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid came into the team and they were a bunch of young raw talents.Together with Tendulkar they began to form the batting attack that was one of the best of their times.
Though they were making progress, it wasn’t enough and they faltered because apart from them and a couple of other players, they didn’t have a strong team to challenge other strong teams.They tried out many captains, including Sachin, but no one was able to hold on to their position for long enough. Though they were quite strong at home, they lacked the punch to deliver the goods when it came to overseas tours.
That was the time when Sourav Ganguly took up the captaincy. He made some tough decisions, chopping and changing the team to suit his needs. He took on huge amount of responsibilities leading the Indian side, because if one step goes wrong, then you are history. He took on the captaincy when Indian cricket was engulfed in match fixing controversies. He started well by getting a series win against the South Africans and taking India to ICC knockout trophy finals. He was a dynamic and out spoken captain and was a character who had a flourish and an attitude.
The main trait of Ganguly was he used to back the players who he thought were talented or hard working or worthy. He was the one who discovered talents like Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh among others. These three players were immensely successful and made a name for themselves. It is heartening to see that even today their loyalty to the man who made them who they are has not faded.
Ganguly’s high came in the home series against Australia where they defeated an almighty team in a closely fought,nail biting contest. Indian cricket saw hopes in the eyes of Ganguly and they were looking ahead for some good times. He took India to some overseas victories in England. He then led India to the finals of the ICC ODI World Cup, only the second time after Kapil Dev. Ganguly was hailed by many as one of the greatest captains India had ever had.
Then due to lack of form and a rift with the then coach Greg Chappell, Ganguly was removed from the captaincy. He was replaced by Rahul Dravid, but Rahul was not much of a captaincy material, he wasn’t very successful. India bowed out in the first round of the 2007 World Cup and Dravid had to resign.
When India went into the first ever T20 World Cup, the captaincy was handed over to Dhoni. He was an immediate success leading them to the title with a bunch of youngsters whom he backed and surprised one and all by winning the trophy with players who were just taking their baby steps in the international arena.
This was a new beginning for Indian cricket. Dhoni was very much like Dada, who trusted his players and backed them, and motivated them to perform. Dhoni inducted many young players in the team which saw immediate success. He was soft spoken and he seldom showed emotions on the field, earning the name “Captain Cool “.
Dhoni took over from where Dada left, making some dramatic changes to the team and leading them to many victories. His captaincy and his batting were much praised by one and all. What Ganguly dreamed in 2000, Dhoni achieved in 2011 by lifting the World Cup finally. It was a combined effort from Dada and Dhoni. Dada built the team from the scratch and taught them how to win. He showed what it is to win and bring glory to the country. He revolutionized Indian Cricket and went into the history books as one of the greats. Dhoni, on the other hand, rebuilt the team when it was looking down the barrel with the early World Cup exit. He was similar to Dada, who kept the core members of the team and removed non performers.
Both of them had an equal role in India’s World Cup victory and its ascent to the No.1 rankings in the Test. So I strongly believe that it’s unfair to compare these two greats on who is the better captain because they are of the same team,”the Captain team”. They were unique and though in character they are like chalk and cheese, they did have some aspects in their approach towards the game like, motivating players, believing in them, taking some tough decisions etc. They approached the game without any fear and that’s what made them special and unique. They took on the captaincy when other stalwarts were hesitant and they succeeded big time.
I believe both are the wheels of the same cart and degrading one will lead to the downfall of the other. So let’s hail our heroes who have brought so much glory to our country and let’s see them as one and not apart.Published 23 Sep 2012, 17:31 IST