The fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is just five days old. And it has already been impressive for two of the retired stalwarts of Indian cricket – Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. Their inspiring captaincy has taken their respective teams Rajasthan Royals and Pune Warriors to two successive wins.
Both Dravid and Ganguly were on duty on Sunday in different venues. While Ganguly walked out for the toss on Pune's new home ground – Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium, earlier in the day Dravid faced Gautam Gambhir and Kolkata Knight Riders at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. They both were in action two days before, Friday.
It was coincidence that both teams registered victories by identical margins of 22 runs on Sunday. Pune got the better of Kings XI Punjab while Royals conquered the Knights. Before Sunday, Pune had shocked the favourites Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan had beaten Kings XI Punjab.
Having served India for a long time in both Tests and ODIs, Dravid and Ganguly have enjoyed each other's company in national colours. During the later stages of IPL 5, they will come face to face. That would be an interesting match-up. Who will come on top in those two games?
Right through when Ganguly was at the helm for India, Dravid had assumed the role of a vice-captain. “The Wall" was always ready to step into the captain's shoes when Ganguly missed out due to injuries.
In the Greg Chappell era, Dravid was made the full-time captain of India after Ganguly's reign ended. However, Dravid was not as successful as Ganguly. The Bengal left-hander is the most winning Test leader for India.
Ganguly was credited with India's success at home and abroad. He was known to back youngsters. Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh always received support from Ganguly. Now, Ganguly has paceman Ashok Dinda from his home state. Dinda seems to be enjoying Ganguly's leadership as he has already taken five wickets in two games. Also there are other talented boys like Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa and Rahul Sharma.
Ganguly's aggressive captaincy is now helping Pune Warriors. Even though he did not contribute much opening the batting, his leadership role was appreciated. The same applies to Dravid.
Australian batsman Brad Hodge revealed how Dravid was motivating the Rajasthan players. "He (Dravid) has been very good and motivating his players and also the dressing room atmosphere is very cordial," Hodge said after winning against Kolkata on Sunday. Dravid's presence is key for youngsters like Ajinkya Rahane and Ashok Menaria.
Rajasthan were always the team built by Australian spin legend Shane Warne. From the inception of IPL, it was Warne's captaincy that took them to the title in 2008 when nobody expected that. Now Dravid has perfectly slipped into Warne's chair. The Australian for sure will be admiring Dravid's role keeping himself aware of what is happening here in India.
Even though Ganguly conceded that there was still a long way to go in the tournament, Pune's fans will be overjoyed that their team has begun very well after finishing at the bottom of the table last year.
Dravid and Ganguly have started the journey well. Hope these two veterans keep shining for long in the short format of the game.