It was one of the most memorable gestures shown by an incumbent Indian cricket team captain to a former leader playing his final match.
MS Dhoni’s offer to Sourav Ganguly on his last day of international cricket to lead the Indian cricket team for one last time has been etched in the memories of Indian fans forever.
But it has now come to light that Ganguly, exiting the international circuit on his terms but with a heavy heart, was not initially ready to lead the Indian cricket team against Australia in the 2008 Nagpur Test, which was his last.
In a teaser chapter released ahead of the launch of his first book titled ‘A Century is Not Enough’, Ganguly has revealed he had turned down the offer earlier in the day.
“As the match came to a close, MS Dhoni in a surprise gesture asked me to lead. I had rejected his offer earlier in the day, but could not refuse a second time. Ironically, my captaincy career had begun exactly eight years ago on this very day,” Ganguly has written.
“I handled the bowling changes and field placements while the last Australian wicket batted. But I must admit, at that stage, I found it difficult to focus. So after three overs I handed it back to Dhoni saying, it is your job, MS. We both smiled.”
Even though Dhoni had not succeeded Ganguly as the Indian captain — he took over from Anil Kumble who had retired from international cricket two Tests earlier, in New Delhi — Dhoni’s gesture at such an emotional moment for the Indian cricket team fans also gave a glimpse of the his leadership skills.
Ganguly, one of India’s most successful captains across formats, lead India in 49 Tests in which he won 21 and lost 13. Dhoni went on to better Ganguly’s record as India won 27 Tests out of 60 under the wicketkeeper-batsman.
In 146 ODIs, the Indian team under Ganguly won 76 matches and went on to qualify for the final of the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup.
A lot of the members of the 2003 World Cup final, such as Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, and even Sachin Tendulkar went on to lift the trophy in 2011 when India defeated Sri Lanka in the final in Mumbai.