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Sourav Ganguly reveals how Imran Khan inspired him to bounce back from Greg Chappell episode

Ganguly recollects Imran's words of motivation during the most challenging phase of his career.


Ganguly Imran Khan
Sourav Ganguly has attributed his stirring renaissance to Imran Khan's motivational words

What's the story?

Iconic Indian captain Sourav Ganguly has credited legendary Pakistan skipper Imran Khan for his inspirational comeback from the infamous Greg Chappell episode during the mid 2000s. The elegant left-hander revealed that the exalted all-rounder's words of motivation ignited his mind and helped him make a stirring return to the Indian team towards the end of 2006.

"It (Being dropped from the team) was tough but it made me a better person. I once met Imran Khan in Lahore during that period. He was actually following Indian cricket. We have a fantastic relationship, Imran and myself. He said something to me which I always remember in life. When you fly high and see dark clouds, you find a way to fly higher. I remembered those words during that (tough) period", Ganguly divulged during the India Today Conclave East 2017.

Shedding light into his mindset at the face of turbulence, the resilient stalwart added, "I was so angry that I started running at Eden Gardens. It was about 2006. I kept running at Eden Gardens. I kept running, running and running till I finished 21 laps. The last six or seven were just out of anger."

In the past...

Having transformed the face of Indian cricket with his strong captaincy, Ganguly was flying high until Greg Chappell began his tenure as head coach. The hard Australian taskmaster had a major fall-out with the Indian skipper which ended with the latter being stripped of his leadership duties and eventually dropped from the national team in early 2006.

The heart of the matter

Chappell and Ganguly started to have differences in opinion during India's tour of Zimbabwe in 2005. In a brazen email to BCCI, the Australian batting great claimed that the southpaw was unfit to lead India and called upon the Indian board to sack him from captaincy. Rahul Dravid subsequently replaced him at the helm of affairs.

Extra Cover: 5 of the most high-profile sackings in Indian cricket history

After his inadequate showing in the Test series in Pakistan, Ganguly was dropped from the team and had to spend the vast majority of 2006 in the wilderness. Not the one to throw in the towel, he increased the intensity in his training. When the younger players floundered, the veteran returned to the Indian team for their Test series in South Africa.

Ganguly scored a crucial half-century to help India win their maiden Test match on South African soil. He soon made a comeback into the ODI team as well. After enjoying a productive phase since his return to the international arena, the venerated cricketer retired on his own terms after the final Test of the 2008 Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Parallels from history

This is not the only instance of cricket transcending political borders. Younis Khan has attributed his development into a world-class batsman to the valuable tips provided by Dravid during the early stages of his career.

Author's take

As is often said, the true character of a man is revealed during crisis. Ganguly's stirring comeback was a lesson in perseverance. Having paved the way for the left-hander's resurgence, Imran's rewarding advice continues to exemplify the fact that cricket has the power to bring India and Pakistan closer together.

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