Sourav Ganguly’s heroics at Brisbane | The best overseas innings by an Indian
By : Anirban Bobo Dasgupta
Sourav Ganguly’s heroics at Brisbane will always be arguably the best overseas innings by an Indian according to everyone.
The innings in question long transcended the amount of runs he scored or the quality of bowling he countered, it became an emblem for the changing trends in world cricket and marked the India’s ascendance to power in more ways than one.
Spending the earliest hours of the day in front of the television for the last few weeks must have made you nauseated, if you are Indian, that is. Seeing our team getting whitewashed overseas time and time again in recent times hurts us more as we have become accustomed to the fight put up by our team since the days of Ganguly.
Indians were never great visitors overseas. Yes, there were a few wins here and there in the 1980s and 90s, which got labelled as historic as they were only handful in number and could be easily recollected. But then came the Ganguly era when we started breaking tradition of all sorts. Fielding three pacers regularly, building the rock-solid batting line-up with the Famous Four in the middle, batting first after winning the toss at green-tops and most importantly, turning the whole team into a professional unit who operated with varying degrees of pride and precision. And it was their captain who played the bugle from the front, and led his team to the battle. Exorcising the demons of surrendering in foreign soils was not achieved in a day, the process was very gradual and the result came at the expense of very determined planning and its resultant applications, which turned into gestures in the field.
Ganguly’s India rose to fame when they defeated a supposedly invincible Australian side in Kolkata and Chennai in consecutive tests. Though it was in Indian soil, the Battlestar Galactica had started since then.
Sourav Ganguly could be credited with the honour of being the mastermind behind the downfall of Australian reign in World Cricket.
Somehow he sensed despite being at par in excellence Indians were unnecessarily intimidated by the reputations and muscularity of their counterparts. Accordingly he set out to convince the world that the contemporary champions were human and could be beaten. This involved a few incidents like turning up late for the toss, a cheekiness that began as an accident and became an effective tactic. The Australian pride was hurt and which affected their on-field performances. Ganguly’s rebellious team was the only side which competed with the Australians in the period between 2001-05.
He understood the Australian cricketing mind like no other. His feud with Steve Waugh was the result of his analysis of the opponent’s strategy and his own innovative measures to counter it. Though a fierce competitor at heart, he has always had his respect for the brand of cricket Australia plays. After all the fiasco in Sydney about the Monkey-Gate episode in 2008, he stepped back and said that it had shown “how desperately the Australians want to win”. All India was in a rage and yet a part of him respected that unbridled determination to prevail. He alone absorbed the significance of the whole scenario and must have gained satisfaction from the fact the Indians were getting to Australian nerves and that they were forced to take unsporting means over beating India. The rivalry had been largely his creation.
Barring him and Kumble, almost the same line up is facing the Aussies this time and making a laughing stock out of themselves. What has been the difference?
The difference has been the attitude and application in the 22 yards. In 2003, he knew that his struggling team needed him to lead the way in the critical hour with a captain’s innings and in Brisbane he promptly produced a rousing, valorous hundred on a lively pitch against a rampant attack. It was this performance that inspired up the whole team to fight it out. It confirmed, once and for all, that India was there to snatch the crown from the champions. As far as his critics were concerned, he was just too stubborn to give up. It was a red lettered day in world cricket as it marked the advent of a different ruler in times to come, a feat that India achieved a few years later.
There would have been many words, both spoken and written, dissecting Ganguly’s innings at the Gabba. For a man who has carried the tag of fragility against short balls all his life, he justified his worth with bat, exhibiting a consistent display of upright balance and precision timing, all the time, bossing over the lethal bowling unit boasting the likes of Gillespie, Braken and Bickel. His double barrelled celebration not only expressed his own triumph, but sang the tune for the entire team to get up and be counted. His knock inspired all his team-mates to give their best performances, and that’s what charged the Indian side to go to Adelaide and create history.
This innings of reckoning had been missing this time around, with none of the seniors being able to deliver. The grit is missing, the determination is missing, the street-smart attitude is missing. The man with attributed to all those traits is seen sitting frustrated in the commentary box with his hands tied. With all due respect to the three existing members of the original four, we all can’t help but miss that man dearly. Bring back the stripes of the Royal Bengal Warrior!!
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