Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly: Once in a lifetime partnership
The forcefulness and dominance of a cricketing team in any era, particularly in ODIs, has largely been dependent upon the opening pair of that team. Be it the Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes for the West Indies, Gilchrist and Hayden for the Aussies and Tendulkar and Ganguly for India.
Sure, a solid opening pair in bowling is equally important but I’m focusing on the batting aspects of the game here so no credit taken away from the bowlers here.
The role of an opening pair is inclined towards being the ‘backbone’ of a team, being strong regardless of the toughness of the match/series.
For bowlers I believe it’s easier to fightback, as compared to batsmen – opening batsmen at that. For instance, let’s recall the recent Ashes series, after following Australia 3-0 in the series, the next 2 Test matches were critical and all about ‘respect’ and ‘pride’. The key responsibility to get the team off to a good start was on the shoulders of Cook and Carberry.
In such a scenario, it’s easy to understand the mental toughness that a opening pair requires. Even though Cook and Carberry couldn’t put forward the performance that one expected from them, it’s without a doubt commendable for these 2 batsmen to show the courage that they showed in the ‘crisis’ situation for England.
The Gem For India
This article emphasizes on 2 great opening partners of India i.e. Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.
One made his debut at the tender age of 16 and the other at the age of 18. One continued to be a part of the line-up without any worries and the other, was dropped after his very first series (Ganguly). But, as they say ‘destiny had some other plans’. Ganguly made his ’1st’ comeback to the team, in the 1996 tour vs England and quickly came into the limelight with a thunderous century – those cracking and crispy off drives are incomparable and still very much joyed in my memories.
Health Streak, the former Zimbabwe bowler sums up Ganguly’s dominance on the off-side perfectly: “His offside has become so strong that unless he commits a mistake on his own, it is absolutely impossible to get him out in that region. A world class batsman, indeed.”
Tendulkar and Ganguly had the ability to take the game into their hands, at any time, any situation. If there’s one match I particular recall, it’s vs England in the 2007 Natwest Series, in which India were trailing England 3-2. In this match and in one of the earlier matches of the series, Ganguly and Tendulkar completely demolished the England bowling which had likes of Andrew Flintoff, James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Jon Lewis.
It was not the demolition that one enjoyed and recalls, it was the art of playing ‘proper’ cricketing strokes and getting the runs via the way of ‘demolition’, an art which the so called ‘T20 specialists’ lack. It’s not about blind-eye hitting, it’s about the quality of the strokes that matters.
Tendulkar and Ganguly complimented each other’s game and if there’s one aspect where they both were North and South, it’d have to be running. Tendulkar was always someone who looked for the quick singles and Ganguly on the contrary, liked to take the ‘easy singles’ and settle for singles instead of doubles but it was the solid understanding between these 2 players which overpowered their shortcomings.