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Standing The ‘Test’ of Time and World Cricket: A lookback at Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni as India Captains!

MS Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly share their birthdays back to back every year. However, they share one other thing in the same fashion. That is serving the role of the Indian men’s cricket captain. Although, Dravid was the man to keep the team glued together from 2005 to 2007. However, Ganguly and Dhoni had back-to-back successful stints as India captains. Moreover, the duo also played under one another in international cricket. 

Notably, Ganguly played his last India match under Dhoni’s captaincy. While the former handed Dhoni his international debut.

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Sourav Ganguly currently serves as the president of the BCCI.

The two of them are retired from international cricket as of now. However, both are actively involved with Indian cricket in some way or the other. Ganguly is the current president of the BCCI since taking over in 2019. He is only the second Indian captain to hold this post. Besides, Dhoni is a part of the CSK team in the IPL. He has served as the captain of the side since its inception in 2008. Notably, they have faced off against each other as captains in the early seasons of the IPL.

In this article, we look at the journey of the two influential leaders of India. Their journey as captains has given a rich legacy to the world of cricket. Let us trace the path of their careers.

Also Read: The Money Nectar: The Pay Gap in Indian Cricket!

Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni as India captains!

Whenever there is any talk of Indian cricket captains, Dhoni and Ganguly make the conversation in the same breath. However, first things first, the two led India in different eras of the game. Ganguly had only the ODIs and Tests to deal with in his time as captain. But Dhoni also had the added burden of the T20Is and IPL.

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Dhoni is a regular in the highly competitive IPL as the captain of CSK.

However, Ganguly needed to rub shoulders with the world-beating Aussie side of the early 2000s. Notably, that side won three ICC World Cup titles on the trot. Nevertheless, Dada taught India to be fearless on the field, no matter the opponent.

Talking of ICC titles, Dhoni takes the cake in this regard. He remains the only cricketer to win the three top ICC tiles as captain. 

Also, this could well and truly, remain the case for a long time. Notably, the ICC WTC did not exist during his reign. However, he was the first captain to lead India to the no.1 rank in Tests.

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Sourav Ganguly makes India a force to be reckoned with!

Ganguly took over the captaincy in the year 2000. Indian cricket was going through a tough time back then. However, Dada took the onus on him to transform his team into a team to be proud of. Just a year into his tenure, Ganguly’s side produced one of the greatest victories in Test cricket history. The Aussie side led by Steve Waugh was the team to beat that time. They were on a run of 15 test wins on the spin. So, their visit to India promised yet another series win. The Aussies won the first test in Mumbai with a dominating display. However, on the second test at the Eden Gardens, Indian cricket saw a new dawn. India spectacularly won the match on the final day. It set the tone for Indian cricket, with Ganguly as the spearhead.

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Ganguly holding the 2022 Natwest series trophy after beating England at Lord’s.

The 2002 Natwest series win against England in England was yet another high point of the Ganguly era. This time, Dada showed the world that India could also win in ODIs away from home against the big dogs. However, his loss in the 2003 WC final did not go as per plan for his side. Nevertheless, the team earned plenty of plaudits for their displays leading up to the final.

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Ganguly has over 18,500 runs to his name in international cricket.

Besides, Dada was a terrific batter for India as well. On his Test debut in 1996, he scored a ton against England at Lord’s. He did have some memorable displays in ODIs too. He was a part of the first-ever 300-run partnership in ODIs alongside Rahul Dravid. Also, his knock of 183 in that match saw him get the highest runs by an Indian batter in a WC match. However, Test cricket was his natural forte.

MS Dhoni mastering the ICC events from the get-go!

MS Dhoni’s tenure as the captain started in the best way possible. India exited in the group phase of the 2007 ICC WC. That same year, Dhoni took over the side for the inaugural T20 WC. Besides, his first match as captain was against arch-rivals Pakistan. India went on to script a memorable win in that match. Also, Dhoni led his side to the title in that event beating Pakistan in the final.

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Dhoni holding the 2011 ICC World Cup trophy.

However, it was only the start of his command over the white-ball format. Four years later, Dhoni hit a six in the Wankhede stadium to lead India to the first ODI WC title in 28 years. His 91-run knock in the final proved crucial for the win. If that wasn’t enough, he cemented his place as one of the best Indian captains in the ICC CT 2013. He lifted the trophy to become the only captain to win all three major ICC titles at the time.

As a captain, Dhoni brought some changes into his game as a player. He went from being a top-order batter to coming in at no.6. His abilities as a finisher in the white-ball format are revered across the globe. Also, he is widely regarded as one of the best WKs to play the game.

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Virat Kohli(L) served as the Indian captain until 2022 after taking over from MS Dhoni.

Dhoni handed over his captaincy role to Virat Kohli in 2017. However, he remained the leader of the pack till his retirement from India duty. His last ODI match as a player saw him getting run out in a crucial stage of the 2019 WC semis against NZ. He retired from international cricket on 15 August 2020. Notably, Dhoni has four IPL titles as captain of CSK. Reports suggest he could say goodbye to the game after the 2023 IPL season.

Also Read: Leader’s Digest: India’s Next Cricket Captain!

What is their legacy?

Ganguly will forever be remembered as a leader who paved the path for Indian cricket. But when it comes to decorating that path, Dhoni was the master of it. If you ask Dada, he will grasp at the chance of having MS Dhoni on his side as a batter in the ODIs. At the same time, Dhoni would have loved to have a top-order batter like Ganguly on his Test cricket side. Notably, Ganguly played his last match for India in a home test against Australia in 2008. However, he got out on a golden duck in his final innings. Nevertheless, the match is fondly remembered as a show of respect between the two.

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Ganguly and Dhoni were on the former’s final test match.

On the final day of the test match in Nagpur, Dhoni offered Ganguly to take over the captaincy role from him for the last few overs. Dada refused it in the initial stages. However, he did accept the offer later on in the day. Ganguly rolled back the years by calling the changes with his trademark gestures and the hunger to win. Later on, Dada recalls in his autobiography ‘A Century is Not Enough’ that it was exactly eight years to the day that he served as Indian captain for the first time. India won the series 2-0, and the Ganguly and Dhoni bromance won a lot of love.

Eventually, it is fair to say that the two benefitted from each other’s legacy. Dhoni reaped the reward of a team that Ganguly had moulded. While the latter earned plaudits every time, Dhoni took India across the final hurdles that Ganguly had brought them close to.

Also Read: The Money Nectar: The Pay Gap in Indian Cricket!

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Premankya Majumder

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