Former India captain Sourav Ganguly is regarded as one of the best captains of the Indian cricket team. He is often credited for changing the phase of Indian cricket completely. From a Test victory in Australia in 2001 to the Natwest final triumph in 2002, under Ganguly’s leadership, India started winning matches in overseas conditions.
Not only as a captain, but Ganguly was also known as one of the best opening batsmen across the world, during his playing days. The Kolkata-born, along with iconic Sachin Tendulkar, put together some enduring partnerships, providing India with a reliable pair at the top in the limited-overs format.
However, Ganguly wasn’t an opener initially as he used to bat down the order. But how did that change and the Bengal superstar became the opener? Well, in a recent interview with Sportskeeda, former India cricketer and coach Madan Lal revealed the secret. Lal disclosed how he advised Ganguly to open the innings, instead of batting at no. 5 spot.
“We wanted to utilise Dada. I don’t know if he remembers or not. I told him ‘Dada, nothing will happen batting at no. 5. You should directly open’,” said Madan Lal.
When Madan Lal was the coach, Ganguly opened the innings for the first time in an ODI match against South Africa in Jaipur in October 1996. It was an excellent start for him as he put on a half-century, scoring 54 runs against a quality pace attack. After which, Ganguly became a regular opener in the team. He was well supported by Sachin Tendulkar.
“Every player has his own style. Ganguly had all the strokes. Every batsman needs some time to settle in. If you play out a few overs with just one-two runs because you need to get set to the conditions. Even today, batsmen like Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane take some time,” the 69-year-old added.
“So, I told him he was like ‘okay’. And then he never looked back. Sachin and Sourav’s partnership has been really popular for India – the two won a lot of matches for India. I was a coach at the time. I vaguely remember I might have told him this during the Sri Lanka tour,” concluded Lal.