Sourav Ganguly is regarded as one of the best captains of the Indian cricket team. Under his leadership, the Indian cricket team developed a new attitude, a new energy and dynamism in the early 2000s. With victories over Australia in Tests in 2001, and England at Lord’s in the Natwest Series final in 2002, Ganguly-led Indian team became a force to reckon with. India went on to make it to the final in the 2003 World Cup under Ganguly, though a heavy defeat to Australia in the summit clash shattered the World Cup dreams for the left-hander.
But not being able to win the World Cup takes little away from Ganguly’s celebratory career. Apart from being a captain, the former India star was also known as one of the best opening batsmen across the world, during his playing days. Ganguly, along with Sachin Tendulkar, stitched some memorable partnerships, and later on, his opening pairing with Virender Sehwag gave India another solid pair at the top in limited-overs cricket.
In a recent interview, former India cricketer and coach Madan Lal revealed how he advised Ganguly to open the innings, instead of batting at no. 5 position.
“We wanted to utilise Dada. I don’t know if he remembers or not. I told him ‘Dada, nothing will happen batting at no. 5. You should directly open’,” Madan Lal told Sportskeeda in Facebook Live session.
Ganguly, who became a regular member of the team in 1996, used to bat at no. 3 position in his first few games. In the Singer World Series in Sri Lanka, Ganguly batted at no. 5 position, but did not put on a big mark on the team, except scoring a fifty against Australia.
Ganguly opened the innings for the first time in an ODI match against South Africa in Jaipur in October 1996 when Madan Lal was the coach of the team. He immediately put on a half century, scoring 54 runs against a lethal Proteas pace attack. Following that performance, Ganguly became a regular opener in the team, batting alongside Sachin Tendulkar.
“Every player has his own style. Ganguly had all the strokes. Every batsman needs some time to settle in. If you play out a few overs with just one-two runs, because you need to get set to the conditions. Even today, batsmen like Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane take some time,” Lal said.
“So, I told him, he was like ‘okay’. And then he never looked back. Sachin and Sourav’s partnership has been really popular for India – the two won a lot of matches for India. I was a coach at the time. I vaguely remember I might have told him this during the Sri Lanka tour,” the former India cricketer said.