Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly is celebrating his 46th birthday today. Known for his exquisite strokeplay - especially on the off-side - he is also India's second-most successful skipper behind MS Dhoni. Be it Tests or ODIs, Ganguly left an indelible imprint on both formats of the game and won a number of matches for his nation.
While in ODIs his opening partnership with Sachin Tendulkar at the top was one of the most successful partnerships in limited-overs cricket, in Tests, Dada formed part of a famed Indian middle order along with the latter, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.
To mark this occasion in this article we will look at five of Sourav's most memorable innings across both Tests and ODIs:
1. 141*(142) vs South Africa, 2nd Semi-Final, ICC KnockOut, Nairobi, 2000
Handed the reins of a side bustling with young talent after the match-fixing debacle had shaken Indian cricket to its core, Ganguly took it upon himself to steer India to victory and into the final, beating the much-fancied South Africans. The innings contained 6 towering sixes against an attack comprising Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis and Lance Klusener.
2. 183(158) vs Sri Lanka, ICC World Cup, Taunton, 1999
A knock which was played when Ganguly was at the peak of his powers and in a must-win World Cup league match against neighbours Sri Lanka. Along with his good friend Rahul Dravid, he forged a partnership of 318 runs for the second wicket which still remains the highest for the said wicket. Dada treated the Lankan bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan with so much disdain that at one point it looked as if they are club bowlers.
3. 144(196) vs Australia, 1st Test, India Tour of Australia, Brisbane, 2003
Leading a team to Australian shores used to be a dreaded job for most Indian captains owing to the numerous losses accumulated in that country over the years. But Dada changed the whole perception of the Indian team by scoring a stirring century in the first Test itself proving the Indians were on a mission and not mere spectators as was the norm in yesteryears. It was also a moment of personal triumph for Ganguly who before this was struggling for form and often criticised for failures against tough oppositions. The biggest impact of the innings was that it gave the team a lot of self-belief which they utilised to draw the series and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
4. 60(43) vs England, Final, NatWest Series, London, 2002
After England had put up a massive 325 on the board a number of Indian fans seemed resigned to the fate of losing yet another final. But the captain had other ideas. Even though it was a brief knock, he scored at a frenetic pace giving India the early momentum it needed to chase such a huge total. It was a crucial innings from Ganguly who set up the chase for colts Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif who took India to one of it's most famous wins. The iconic image of a bare-chested Ganguly swinging his shirt in the Lord's balcony was an image of a young Indian team capable of giving it back to the opposition in its own language.
5. 131(301) vs England, 2nd Test, India Tour of England, London,1996
This was Sourav's debut Test and after getting a chance to bat on a chilly day at Lord's Ganguly combined with his fellow debutant Rahul Dravid to compile an innings full of delectable strokeplay coupled with grit to help India post a solid reply to England's 344. Though the match ended in a draw it was a sign of things to come as Ganguly finished the tour with another hundred thus announcing himself onto the world stage in the grandest way possible.