General, Sports

A Class Apart: Sourav Ganguly (#Dada)

Some men are just born special. A class apart.

Class. Technique. Grit. Aggression. All the qualities of a brilliant leader. To lead by example. Words that define the most successful Test and ODI captain of the Indian National cricket team – Sourav Ganguly; popularly referred to as ‘#Dada‘ in Kolkata; and worldwide by #Dada’s fans.

Yesterday’s match at his home groundEden Gardens in Kolkata – which is without doubt the finest cricketing venue on Earth after Lord’s in England, was most probably his last competitive level cricket match at Eden, of his illustrious cricketing career. Never ever in his dreams he would have had dreamt, that he would be sitting at the visiting team’s dugout in his last match. Eden is and will always remain – Dada’s home ground. When asked – how would he feel playing at Eden for the first time in his 25 years of playing competitive cricket as a Visiting Team member – he had said – ‘Eden is my ground. All matches at Eden are my home matches‘.

He was right. Saturday’s clash between the local KKR and visiting Pune Warriors led by #Dada saw around 70,000 crowd. Highest in this and all IPLs taken together for any League match ever. Sourav’s offside cover drive and control over Eden still remains the same. Majestic. Completely under control.

Time will soon come when #Dada has to hang up his boots for good. The nod of his head when Ashok Dinda let go a simple ‘dolly’ catch – showed the pain which he didn’t express. His team members let him down. Coming into bat at his team tottering at 55 runs for 5 wickets, and needing 150 to win; #Dada’s innings of 36 runs in 35 balls will go down as one of his best. Not in class and style – but just true grit.

Sourav Ganguly still remains India’s finest Cricket Team Captain – at home and abroad. He united a team of cricket players into a world-class team. One unit. A joint force. Discovered and nourished the talent of Indian gems of Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Srisanth, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan and many others.

After getting out, #Dada raised his bat at Eden Gardens last evening, to acknowledge the crowd that had gathered there to see him bat for the last time. The 2 fours of Kallis’ over, still showed – #Dada had aged, but still better than God on the off-side when it comes to timing the sweet cover and square-cover-drives. One hit against Jacques Kallis was exceptionally special – lent back and so sweetly timed. Reminded all of the Vintage Sourav Ganguly, making his debut in England.

I shall never forget his debut century at Lord’s Cricket Ground at England in the summer of 1996. #Dada’s 131 still remains the highest by any batsman in any form of cricket on his debut at Lord’s. There were some shots – cover drives, square cover drives, front-foot cover drives, back-foot late drive, back-foot square drives against one of the best fast bowling attacks in Test cricket – which were truly exceptional. Announced the arrival of a great Test player.

Myself, when playing cricket at the University level in England at Oxford University in 2006-2007 season, I met other College captains in a meeting before the Oxford University Summer League (OUICCL); I still remember one of the captains telling – ‘Wow! You come from Kolkata, the land of the Prince. We saw him at Lords. Exceptional… Do you know him by any chance? ‘. I felt so proud. Couldn’t speak. Said – No, I don’t know him, but he stays very near to my house in Kolkata.

#Dada’s picture perfect cover drive through the off-side at Lord’s (below) will always remain as my best memory of 1996.
Elegant. Majestic. Completely in control.
When the bat makes the contact, the timing is too sweet to be true. The ball races to the cover boundary. All you can do is watch.

His legacy and imprint on the Indian cricket team shall remain forever, even after decades when he’s dead and gone.

Currently, he is the 5th highest run scorer in ODIs and was the 3rd person in history to cross the 10,000 run landmark, after Sachin Tendulkar and Inzamam Ul Haq. Wisden ranked him the sixth greatest one day international batsman of all time, next to Viv Richards, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Dean Jones and Michael Bevan.

Some are just born special. #Dada is definitely one of them.
We hope to see him for Pune Warriors in the next IPL. Most chances are – this is his last IPL. Anyways #Dada’s team lost by 7 runs in Eden, but that night, he showed his true grit and character.

Sourav Ganguly taught Indians something which is extremely important to India as a wholeWINNING IS NOT IMPORTANT, BUT THE INTENT & AGGRESSION TO WIN, INFINITELY IS.

To be fearless in life.
Never to give up.
Never to give in.
And never say its over, till its over.

A tribute to a true champ, #Dada.


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