How Ganguly changed the face of Indian cricket
Sourav Ganguly took over as India captain in 2000. Indian cricket was still trying to recover from the match-fixing shock. He instilled the belief that India can reach the top. CricketNDTV.com takes a look at some of the steps he took on and off the field that changed the face of Indian cricket.
<p>Sourav Ganguly took over as India captain from Sachin Tendulkar after the latter quit captaincy in 2000. Indian cricket was still trying to recover from the match-fixing shock and wash off the stains. He started a new age with a new team, filled with new faces and instilled the belief that India could well be one of the top teams. </p> <p>NDTV.com takes a look at some of the steps he took on and off the field that changed the face of Indian cricket. (AFP Photo)</p>
<p>Match fixing saw players like Mohd Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja and Nayan Mongia out of the side. With Sachin Tendulkar stepping down from captaincy, Sourav Ganguly became the obvious choice. After becoming India's captain, Ganguly got down to make his team. </p> <p>He handpicked the young players from all corners of the country. An adamant Ganguly was assertive about his preference for certain players in the selection meetings and with the BCCI's (read Jagmohan Dalmiya) hands down support, he made sure he was heard. He got players like Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Mohammad Kaif, Zaheer Khan etc. in the team and collectively called them Team India. It won't be an exaggeration if one says they bloomed under his leadership. (AFP Photo)</p>
<p>Before Ganguly took over as skipper, terms like gentleman losers, chokers were often associated with the Indian team. He injected that aggression into the team. He didn't stop his players from giving their opponents a taste of their medicines. Nobody will ever forget Ganguly swirling his India jersey at the Lords' balcony and laughing aloud on somebody called 'Freddie' Flintoff.</p> <p>Players like Harbhajan, Yuvraj, and Sehwag were often criticised on disciplinary grounds but one man who constantly backed them was the Prince of Kolkata. These players were exceptionally talented and aggressive, and Ganguly guided them well without tampering with their style. (AFP Photo)</p>
<p>Middle-order batsman Rahul Dravid had occasionally kept wickets for India. Dravid, a prolific Test batsman, was considered a liability in ODIs and had to struggle for a place in the team due to his slow-paced batting. After Ganguly became the captain, he accommodated Dravid in the line-up as a wicketkeeper. How successful this ploy proved can only be understood by the fact Dravid is now known as India's most successful wicketkeeper batsman (considering his performance behind and in front of the wickets).</p> <p>Dravid became the third pillar of Indian cricket along with Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. Already a regular name in Tests, Dravid established himself as an indispensible ODI player. As Ganguly was not very comfortable going with five regular batsmen, Dravid as a keeper, gave him the luxury of going with an additional batsman and this proved to be a successful step for India. Of course till 'Demolisher' Dhoni came to the fore. (AFP Photo)</p>
<p>Sourav Ganguly was not only a leader on the field but also off it. He always stood for his boys despite the chips being down. </p> <p>He along with other seniors like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath made sure the cricketers got annual fee from the board. The performance-based grade system was introduced. This step also took care of the players who missed the game due to injuries.</p> <p>But there was more to Ganguly that can never put in words. He sowed some seeds and we can see the results now. He left a legacy that the youngsters are proudly carrying. When we see a promising Team India surging ahead, we know when it all started. (AFP Photo)</p>