There are players and there are heroes. And then, once in a blue moon, along comes one legend who changes the way a country looks at a sport. I could write endlessly about his classy cover drives and lusty sixes over long on. But what this man gave us was much more than pure cricketing joy.
Indian Cricket in early nineties was a classic case of a mediocre team whose fans preferred to shut down their TV Sets once Sachin Tendulkar was out. Winning was not a realistic expectation. It was a fantasy that we all lived when we won. To make things worse, there was the match fixing scandal in 2000, Hardly a great time for someone to take charge of a team. But this man was different. This man was Sourav Ganguly. Things were about to change.
In 2000 itself, touring down under, at 68/3 with Sachin back in Pavillion, the script seemed familiar. But Ganguly had other plans. There was no retreat into a shell. There was counterattack. Suddenly, Indians looked different. Slowly but surely, a new Indian team was taking shape. The greatest opening combination in ODI history was formed. The best middle order in a long while was taking shape. Our pacers were charged up and spinners were aggressive. Suddenly, Team India was transformed. The surge that started in Natwest Final at Lords went all the way through to 2003 WC finals.
With Dada at helm, India played for a win. India played for pride and glory. Something that refuses to die out even today and, hopefully, will never die out. Thanks, Dada, for giving all this to Indian Cricket.
Captain Courageous. Bengal Tiger. Mercurial. Irrepressible. Fighter. Legendary. Or, in other words, our beloved Sourav Ganguly. Indian Cricket will miss you.