It was Sourav Ganguly’s gamble on talented youngsters waiting for the opportunity that helped India from losing one of its greatest cricketers of all times – Mahendra Singh Dhoni, according to a new book. Ganguly, who turns 46 today, was one of the sharpest and farsighted cricketing minds, says Abhirup Bhattacharya in “Winning Like Sourav: Think & Succeed Like Ganguly”. The southpaw from Bengal had taken over the reins of the Indian cricket team from Sachin Tendulkar after the match-fixing exposes in 2000. Ganguly is credited with nurturing players such as Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and building concept of ‘Team India’ and ‘Men in Blue’.
“Ganguly’s mantra was simple: If he believed that a youngster was talented, he would have enough opportunities to prove his worth. This provided a much-needed calmer atmosphere for the young player as it was certain that he will not be dropped after one failure,” says the book.
“MS Dhoni is a fine example of this policy. Despite failing in his first four innings, Sourav decided to pursue with the youngster who repaid with a 148-run knock against Pakistan. It was one innings which probably set Dhoni’s career on a completely different trajectory,” it says.
Dhoni went on to lead the country to two successful World Cup victories – ICC T20 World Cup and World Cup 2011.
“If Sourav had not persisted with him, India would have arguably lost its finest wicketkeeper-batsman till date,” says the book, by Rupa Publications.
Bhattacharya, who previously authored “Winning Like Virat: Think and Success Like Kohli”, says it was during Ganguly’s tenure that several youngsters came to the fore and created a new core for the team.
“He was able to create a blend between the seniors and juniors in the team. The team looked up to him for guidance in moments of crisis,” he writes in the book.
Bhattacharya also draws parallels with Pakistani great Imran Khan and Sri Lankan legend Arjuna Ranatunga to highlight Ganguly’s strength as a leader, who helped build teams from scratch and took them to dizzying heights.
“If we ignore the controversy surrounding coach Greg Chappell, Sourav managed to create a healthy working relationship with coach John Wright in building the new team. It was the first time that Team India was having a foreigner as its coach; and the captain-coach duo together stitched the glorious years of Indian cricket,” the book says.
“Sourav focused a lot on building interpersonal relationships with his teammates and went on to create ‘Team India’. The country started playing as a team under his leadership and was no longer solely dependent on the batting prowess of Sachin Tendulkar,” it says.
Bhattacharya says the book, replete with statistics and anecdotes, is not a biography but attempts at drawing management lessons and inspiration from the life of an exemplary skipper like Ganguly.