Former Pune Warriors India (PWI) team director Abhijit Sarkar recently spoke about the impact of Sourav Ganguly at the now-defunct franchise, and how the former Indian captain signed for the team in the first place.
In an exclusive interview with Indranil Basu on Sportskeeda Cricket's Facebook page, Sarkar revealed that Yuvraj Singh had initially been PWI's choice for captain, but the 2011 World Cup Man of the Tournament's health issues forced the team to look elsewhere.
When asked about how Sourav Ganguly made his way to the team, he said:
"There was dissatisfaction about the team's performance. Yuvraj came just after the World Cup and tried his best, according to his health limitations. But by the end of the year, we came to know the shocking revelation about his health and he was gone. We selected Yuvraj as the captain for the next 3 years."
"We selected Robin Uthappa, Angelo Mathews. Steve Smith was just coming up. Sourav kept telling me, 'I still have cricket in me'. Who better than Sourav to bring the team together. We thought we will make him the captain and ultimately take over as the coach also."
Sourav Ganguly's popularity transcended IPL teams
Sarkar further narrated a story from when PWI faced off against Sourav Ganguly's first Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), at the Eden Gardens. He mentioned that the ground was filled with PWI fans, owing to Dada's fan following.
"When we went to Kolkata, the whole stadium was full of Pune flags and zero Knight Riders flags. We lost by very few runs but that was the popularity of Sourav. That was the beauty of the IPL. Kolkata was supporting Pune Warriors and not Kolkata Knight Riders."
After being released by KKR and going unsold in the 2011 IPL auction, Sourav Ganguly was signed by PWI as a replacement for the injured Ashish Nehra. After an unsuccessful season in which PWI finished second-last on the points table, Yuvraj's departure further compounded the team's problems.
The 2012 season, for which the Prince of Kolkata was appointed the full-time captain, didn't see them fare any better. PWI won only 4 games throughout the season, and Ganguly was relieved of his captaincy role midway through the season. However, he did play a crucial role as a mentor for the franchise.
Published 30 Aug 2020, 22:58 IST