During the by-gone era, the duels between Pakistan’s express bowler Shoaib Akhtar and former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly was one of the highly anticipated ones, whenever the arch-rivals locked horns.
Ganguly proved to be instrumental in changing the culture inside the Indian cricket team, by bringing in hunger for winning games abroad.
The ‘Prince of Bengal’ took over the helms during a tumultuous period in the history of Indian cricket, post-match-fixing scandal of 2000.
From there on, he hand-picked and backed a few match-winners in his team, who eventually helped Indian team win during testing times.
“If we see from India, my favourite captain is Sourav Ganguly. There’s no better captain than him from India. MS Dhoni was superb as a captain as well. During the 1990s, I never saw India as a winning team whenever they played against us,” Akhtar made the revelation on Helo app.
Akhtar’s ties with Bengal and Kolkata is deep-rooted. The ‘Rawalpindi Express’ silenced the large crowd at Eden Gardens by picking up the wickets of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar on consecutive deliveries in a Test match.
Then, Akhtar went on to play under Ganguly at Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the inaugural IPL season in 2008.
The fastest-bowler in the world has heaped praises on the Bengali people, and especially Dada, for his courage and leadership abilities.
“But, when Sourav became a captain in the 2000s, I thought that the Indian team had the talent to beat Pakistan team and they did it. He brought transformation to the Indian team. Bengali people are courageous, gutsy and they can lead from the forefront, I love Bengali people,” added the 44-year old.
“Many people think that Ganguly was a coward and scared to face me as a bowler. But, according to me, he was the bravest batsman I ever bowled to in my career. He doesn’t have many shots, I tried to hit him on the chest many times, but he still came as an opener and faced me like a brave guy and scored runs. He was a courageous captain for Team India,” concluded Akhtar.