Bangalore: It's bit ironical that when a team is riding a success wave, the performance of a captain goes unnoticed. Similarly, if the team isn't faring well and hits a trough, it's the captain who has suddenly comes under microscope and gets all the media-public stick.
Our own dada -- Sourav Ganguly is going through a strange predicament. His team is back to winning ways after clinching the Kolkata Test after the reverses at the hands of Australia in the last home series; his own batting form hasn't been something to brag about.
Imagine, India going down to Pakistan in the Test series. God forbid it doesn't happen that way; at least it won't happen now as that possibility has been thrown out of the window with the hosts leading 1-0 with the Bangalore Test to follow.
Clearly, Ganguly has marshaled his boys well. He always seems to put his thinking cap on. There are not many who are willing to pose questions about his captaincy. If not near-perfect, the Behala gent has transformed the India into a redoubtable, hard-boiled outfit ever since he took over the reins in the year 2000.
His taking over the mantle of captaincy wasn't a smooth takeover either. The match-fixing allegations were threatening to corrode Indian cricket at that time but Ganguly infused a new fighting spirit into these side, which has learned over the years not to give up till the last ball is hurled.
Earlier in the eighties and nineties under various people at the helm, Indians would often throw in the towel if they were a spell of dominance from their opponents. They just did not have that knack of bouncing back like the Aussies.
The team under Ganguly's stewardship improved in leaps and bounds and played as a well-oiled machine. There's plenty of self-belief and grit among the boys and it reflected in the performances.
The NatWest final win at Lords was a pointer to that. India had looked dead and buried until Kaif in particular with admirable support from Yuvraj pulled off the unthinkable which acted as a spur for the men in blue as they continued to improve with each match.
So much so for Ganguly's contributions to the India cricket as a captaincy. To talk of the present, his lean run with the bat has caused public tongues wagging as to whether the Dada's career wings would be clipped.
In some quarters, there is still talk doing the round that the 'Wall' Rahul Dravid should take over from Ganguly so that the Prince of Kolkata can seriously work on his batting. Not many were very forthcoming on this issue.
The Indian captain whose majestic drives on the off side drew rave comparisons with South African legend Grame Pollock, of late appears to be in a hurry every time he strides out to the wicket. Seemingly, he's trying to hit his way out of trouble. His scores of 21,12, 12 in the ongoing Test series, indicates he would get his eye in and then throw it away.
Look at the way how he perished in Kolkata. He departed while trying to waft at an outgoing delivery from Sami and didn't seem to learn his lesson when he fell to the same bowler spooning a simple return catch in the second innings as he attempted an ambitious pull-shot.
The moot point is for how long the selectors would exercise their patience with Ganguly? Team India is doing well at the moment and to wield the captaincy axe on him would mean sending out the wrong signals.
It would be interesting to see out things unfold in the coming weeks. After all, if the Maharaj is unable to get himself out of the rut he is in at the moment, the patience of the five wise man could wear thin.
One remembers Australia's Mark Taylor going through a similar bad patch in the late nineties even as Aussies were doing incredibly well as a side. Taylor's poor run was a long-drawn one while Ganguly's run-shortage though not of the same magnitude as Taylor's has come under the scrutiny because the stakes are getting higher and higher these days.
Is Ganguly is beginning to feel the captaincy heat? Only time will tell!
|Runs and Ruins|
|Captain Sourav Ganguly's performance in the last few Test Series|