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Salaam Ganguly October 8, 2008

Posted by Karan in Uncategorized.
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He caressed the ball through the offside as the bowler looked, bewildered. The only reaction I managed was a frown. He stepped down and lofted the looping ball into the stands. I glowered. I scowled when he had the audacity to make the best captain in the world waiting. How could Boycott call him the “Prince of Kolkata”… I would rather have it the “Bum of Bengal”. Did he always have to look like a clumsy oaf, spilling catches and running out himself, in the field? Did he have to get himself suspended on umpteen occasions with his antics? Did he have to look like a school kid while facing Pollock’s deliveries directed at his rib cage? Did the Indian captain have to take off his shirt (yeah.. you heard it right) in the stadium? Did India need that kind of needless aggression?

I was probably wrong.

In my view, the greatest tribute to Ganguly has been paid by his long standing adversary, Steve Waugh. In spite of all the bad things Waugh said about him, he said that Ganguly managed to get under his skin and unnerve the Australian captain. The Australians needed a taste of their own medicine, and not necessarily in the Australian way. The South Africans had already tried that unsuccessfully. For far too long, the Indians were seen to be of the meek and unresisting variety who could be bludgeoned over. For far too long, the Indians were seen as uncombative delicate darlings.

Not any more.

Today, to think about it, it is not just the Harbhajan Singhs of the team who represent this indomitable “Ganguly-spirit”. While Zaheer Khan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ishant Sharma, Gautam Gambhir and the like may seem different from Ganguly, they are every bit like the former captain. They can today stand up and look at the adversary’s eye. When I see Zaheer blow out two batsmen after being thrashed in the previous over, I see Ganguly in him. When I see the silent determination in Dhoni’s eyes while handing over the ball to a hapless Joginder Sharma, I can feel Dada. It will not be an exaggeration to say that the combative Bengali has effected a paradigm shift in Indian cricket and inspired a whole generation (and more) of cricketers. So what if he wears his heart on his sleeve?

To use the cliché, love him or hate him- you just cannot ignore him. Indian cricket can never forget him.

Warrior from Kolkata, I bow before you.