Kolkata: Sourav Ganguly, who turned 41 on Monday, chose to keep his birthday a low-key affair, even as a large number of fans and school children gathered outside his Behala residence since morning to greet the former India captain.
In fact, Ganguly returned from Singapore early this morning after attending a business meeting but the former cricketer obliged all his fans who came in groups to cut the customary cake.
It was his first birthday since his father Chandidas' demise in February this year, and Ganguly appeared sad and emotional.
"I'm not celebrating this time, it's been a sad start to the year," Ganguly, who was very close to his father, said.
In his birthday message, he told his fans: "Try to achieve something in whatever you do. Go for something extraordinary otherwise life becomes mundane."
The cricket team of G B Memorial Institution, Sarsuna had arrived with a giant cake and bouquet, while about 30-odd members of the Sourav Ganguly Fan Club in Behala gifted the former cricketer with a watch made up of a gramophone record.
"We have been greeting Dada (Ganguly) since he was made the Indian captain. It's a big day for us and we distribute sweets and cakes in the name of Dada," Ratan Haldar of the club said.
Coach of G B Memorial Institution, Shantanu Shah said: "Dada is an inspiration for all of us. It's a big occasion to come here for these budding cricketers." Wishes also poured in for Ganguly via the social media with his former IPL team, Kolkata Knight Riders' CEO Venky Mysore greeting the 'birthday boy'.
"On behalf of all @KKRiders, here's wishing Saurav Ganguly a V happy b'day & many happy returns."
Known as somebody who changed the face of Indian cricket, Ganguly was one of the finest left-handed batsman as Rahul Dravid had once said, "On the off side, first there is god and then Sourav Ganguly".
It was under his able leadership that India managed to shed the tag of 'tigers-at-home-and-lambs-abroad' in a career spanning more than 16 years which was full of ups and downs.
His shirt twirling incident in the Lord's balcony after winning the 2002 NatWest Trophy final is still etched in every fan's memory, what if it's been five years since he last wore the India cap versus Australia in a Test match.
Ganguly is now a sought-after individual as a cricket pundit on camera and he's also busy in the launch of the Sourav Ganguly International School in Kolkata and Siliguri.