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Sourav Ganguly was not first choice for captaincy, says ICA chief who was part of selection panel

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 24 July 2020, 10:23 IST

For Indian cricketing enthusiasts, it is difficult to be under the impression that what the situation of the team would be if Sourav Ganguly was not designated as captain of India. In the beginning of 2000, under Ganguly’s captaincy, Indian cricket team developed a new match winning attitude.

Sourav Ganguly assembled a team of youngsters that challenged some of the finest adversaries in the world. However for fans, it might come as a amazement that when Sachin Tendulkar gave up captaincy, Ganguly was not the preference to be appointed as captain.

Indian Cricketers Association (ICA) chief Ashok Malhotra, who was also part of the selection committee in those days, looked back at how appointing Ganguly as the vice-captain of the Indian side was a difficult task, but it laid the foundation for him to be picked as the skipper after Sachin Tendulkar’s stepping down.

“See, if I remember correctly, picking Sourav Ganguly as a vice captain was a tougher job. I remember we picked him in Calcutta and the coach had some things to say - drinks too much Coke, takes singles but not twos, etc. In the bargain, I said having a Thumbs Up does not disqualify him as a vice captain,” Malhotra told Sportskeeda.

“And then we had quite a big discussion. 3-2 was voted in favour of Sourav as vice captain. But then, I won’t name the President, but he walked into the selection, which has never ever happened in the history of the BCCI. And he and the Chairman told us, ‘Gentlemen, let’s do some rethinking’,” he said.

“Two of us still stuck to our guns, but one selector said, ‘No, the President has said it so I will go with him.’ So we didn’t make him vice-captain then but later on, we managed to (make him). I know today he’s a legendary captain today, but a little bit of effort was there to make him captain, and even vice-captain,” Malhotra added.

“None of us knew Sourav Ganguly would become the captain, because Sachin was the captain then. But once he resigned, we had to convince everyone to make him captain because Anil Kumble and Ajay Jadeja were in line. I had to work overtime,” Malhotra further said.

With Sourav Ganguly behind the wheel, The men in blue ended Australia’s 16 Test match winning streak in 2001, and the won a victory over Steve Waugh led side at home Test series 2-1. India also won the 2002 Natwest Trophy in England, got to the final of the 2003 World Cup, drew Test series in England in 2004 and also won a Test series in Pakistan in 2004. Currently, Sourav Ganguly, who holds the office of the BCCI President, is held to be one of the most successful skipper of Indian cricket.

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First published: 24 July 2020, 10:23 IST