India's journey: From Dada's belligerence to MSD's charisma

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The process that began under Sourav Ganguly's combative leadership culminated under Mahendra Singh Dhoni's charismatic captaincy.

Updated: December 06, 2009 11:57 IST
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The process that began under Sourav Ganguly's combative leadership culminated under Mahendra Singh Dhoni's charismatic captaincy as India on Sunday occupied its rightful place as the number one Test team in the world.

It was under Ganguly's abrasive leadership that a team derided as 'poor travellers' for their dismal record abroad decided to reinvent themselves as potential world beaters.

Ganguly inherited a team that was smarting from the aftermath of the match-fixing scandal and not only turned it into a crack outfit but also dispelled the air of cynicism that had turned every cricket fan into a skeptic.

The left-hander from Bengal found a perfect foil in New Zealander John Wright and their contrasting yet complementing style of functioning augured well for the team as they returned from Australia with honours even, beat Pakistan at their den besides making the final of the 2003 World Cup.

The Ganguly-Wright association paid rich dividends and India won 21 of the 49 Tests - in contrast to 13 defeats and 15 draws - to prove that they have learnt how to win abroad.

With homesick Wright's departure, Greg Chappell took over for what turned out to be a tumultuous two-year stint marked by bad blood and a near-revolt by the senior players and culminated with the Australian batting great returning home a bitter man.

Ganguly first lost captaincy and then his place in the side and Rahul Dravid was shoehorned into skippering the side. Dravid led India to eight wins in the 25 Test matches he led and it included the series triumph in England after which he relinquished captaincy.

That created a leadership crisis of sort before Anil Kumble stepped in and turned out to be an inspirational leader.

Under him, India won the Test series against Pakistan at home even though Kumble missed a couple of matches due to injuries.

Kumble's injury allowed the selectors to test Dhoni's leadership in the longer version of the game and once satisfied, they named the star stumper-batsman captain in all three formats.

By that time, South African Gary Kirsten had taken over as the new coach of the side and his quiet yet dignified way of functioning not only endeared him to the senior players but also made him popular with the youngsters.

After the successful Ganguly-Wright association, India entered the Dhoni-Kirsten era.

Under Dhoni, India went from strength to strength and nearly became the number one ODI team before Australia beat them at home to dash their hopes.

The home series against Sri Lanka presented them with the opportunity to become the number one Test team and Dhoni's men did not make any mistake.

They carved out a draw in the series opener in Ahemdabad, pummeled the Sri Lankans in Kanpur to go one-up with what was India's 100th Test win and capped the dream run with today's comprehensive win to become the third team -- after Australia and South Africa -- to surge to the top of the ladder since the Test Championship was first introduced in May 2001.

The 2-0 series win also means India will finish 2009 as the number-one ranked side after starting the year in third place behind Australia and South Africa.

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