The great Indian team under Sourav Ganguly
After the 2011 World Cup triumph, many believed that this team was an extraordinary one and the best team at that moment. However, soon after 2011 World Cup triumph, a series of defeats followed in England and in Australia under MSD. At that point of time, many criticized Dhoni for the poor performances and were not ready to blame the seniors’ debacle. It was really a tough job for Dhoni to lead the team, when the senior cricketers failed to make substantial contribution. Also, it was Dhoni who took the responsibility on his shoulders in both the series and tried his best to register a win in Australia, but he couldn’t find support from his players. However, they’re now back to winning ways as they thrashed Australia 4-0 in the recently concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Despite the win, I feel, the team under Ganguly from 2002-06 was the best team India ever had. If you’re cricket fan, then you would definitely rate this set better than any other Indian team of past or present.
When Ganguly took over from Sachin Tendulkar, he led India from the front. He was the one who developed team spirit, which ultimately led to the success of the Indian cricket team. His team comprised of some new faces – Sehwag, Yuvraj, Kaif, Nehra, Harbhajan, and Zaheer Khan. India also had a good coach in John Wright and the chemistry between Wright and Ganguly worked really well as India went to win a series in Lanka, followed by a home series win against England in 2002.
Soon after they walked into 2003 World Cup after a disastrous tour of New Zealand. Only five out of the squad of 15 had played in the World Cup’s before. The rest of the team was certainly talented. They never gave up the match in any circumstances and fought till the end of the match. Partnerships started to build and if the pair settled, then it was a daunting task for the bowlers. For instance, in 2003 World Cup Group A match, India were set a target of 273 runs to win against Pakistan and they fumbled to 177-4 in the 28th over. From there on, it was Yuvraj’s and Dravid’s partnership which steered India home comfortably by 6 wickets.
There was a mutual understanding between the players, which was the key to team’s success. Another reason behind the success was the fielding department. India had two great fielders at point and at extra cover. It was Yuvraj who was controlling the point and Kaif was controlling the extra-cover area. It was really difficult to get the ball past these two fielders. The duo of Yuvraj and Kaif specialized in athletic saves, spectacular catches and direct hits on the stumps as they timed their jump perfectly. Also, these two had mutual understanding as they batted at No.6 and No.7 respectively and steered India to unexpected victories. One of the victories was against England where they chased a stiff target of 326 by two wickets.
Also, it’s Ganguly and his team that hold the record of winning majority of the games against arch-rivals Pakistan in Pakistan.
One of the main reason for the success was that after a wicket had fallen, they gathered together and planned things according to the situation. That was the team spirit which we miss now.
After Ganguly was axed and some of the players were discarded, the spirit slowly came down when Chappell took over as India’s coach. That’s the point where India started to get down, however the same spirit was restored by Kirsten.
Though India is riding on a wave of confidence at the moment, we’re missing those days a lot.