For Indian cricket fans, it is hard to imagine what the situation of the team would be if Sourav Ganguly was not appointed the captain of India. In early 2000s, under Ganguly’s leadership, Indian cricket team developed a new match-winning attitude. Ganguly built a team of youngsters that challenged some of the best oppositions in the world. But for fans, it might come as a surprise that when Sachin Tendulkar resigned from captaincy, Ganguly was not the first choice to be appointed as captain.
Indian Cricketers Association (ICA) chief Ashok Malhotra, who was part of the selection panel committee at the time, recalled how appointing Ganguly as the vice-captain of the team was a tough job, but it paved the way for him to be selected as the captain after Tendulkar’s resignation.
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“See, if I remember correctly, picking Sourav Ganguly as a vice captain was a tougher job. I remember we picked him in Calcutta and the coach had some things to say – drinks too much Coke, takes singles but not twos, etc. In the bargain, I said having a Thumbs Up does not disqualify him as a vice captain,” Malhotra told Sportskeeda in a Facebook Live interview.
“And then we had quite a big discussion. 3-2 was voted in favour of Sourav as vice captain. But then, I won’t name the President, but he walked into the selection, which has never ever happened in the history of the BCCI. And he and the Chairman told us, ‘Gentlemen, let’s do some rethinking’,” he recalled.
“Two of us still stuck to our guns, but one selector said, ‘No, the President has said it so I will go with him.’ So we didn’t make him vice-captain then but later on, we managed to (make him). I know today he’s a legendary captain today, but a little bit of effort was there to make him captain, and even vice-captain,” Malhotra added.
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“None of us knew Sourav Ganguly would become the captain, because Sachin was the captain then. But once he resigned, we had to convince everyone to make him captain because Anil Kumble and Ajay Jadeja were in line. I had to work overtime,” he further said.
With Ganguly at the helm, India ended Australia’s 16-Test match winning streak in 2001, and then defeated the Steve Waugh-led side at home 2-1 in Test series. India also won the 2002 Natwest Trophy tri-series in England, reached the final of the 2003 World Cup final, drew Test series in England in 2004 and won a Test series in Pakistan in 2004. Today, Ganguly, who currently holds the position of the BCCI President, is regarded as one of the most successful captains of Indian cricket.