It is no secret that Ravi Shastri and Sourav Ganguly, two former skippers of Indian cricket, do not get along well anymore. However, when the recently shared the stage in September 2016 as part of India’s 500th Test celebrations in Kanpur, there were hopes of a reconciliation. Shastri, though, it seems is still bitter over being overlooked for the post of Team India’s coach. It may be recalled that Ganguly was a key figure in the selection process of the Indian team’s coach, and Shastri was open in expressing his displeasure over the manner in which Anil Kumble was eventually chosen for the post.
Speaking to Wisden India over MS Dhoni’s decision to step down as limited overs captain, Shastri was all praise for the man from Ranchi. But, while hailing Dhoni he also took a dig at Ganguly. “My salaam to a dada captain,” Shastri said, referring to Dhoni. Interestingly, Ganguly is fondly called ‘dada’ by fans and admirers. While terming Dhoni as “India’s most successful captain”, he also took the names of Kapil Dev, Ajit Wadekar and Mansoor Ali Khan as the other great captains Indian have had, snubbing Ganguly.
Dhoni’s decision has given Virat Kohli time till the Champions Trophy to prepare for the title defence, Shastri explained, “Dhoni has won everything there is to win, he really has nothing to prove. Again, the reason I say he has nothing to prove is that he is easily India’s most successful captain, by a distance. There is no one even close to him in that regard.” Among other captains, he commented, “The names that follow in that list a fair distance behind are Kapil Dev, Ajit Wadekar. And of course, Tiger Pataudi for flamboyance. Baaki koi nahi (there is no one else),” he added.
While Shastri may not have termed Ganguly as a great captain, his record definitely says otherwise. Under Ganguly, India won 42.6 per cent of 49 Test matches and 51.7 per cent of 147 ODIs. His record was only bettered by Dhoni. Ganguly was also the leader when India made it to the final of the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, losing to Australia in the summit clash. That’s not all, Ganguly took over the reins of the Indian team at a time when the match-fixing scandal had hit Indian cricket’s credibility badly. It was under him that a generation of match-winners flourished in the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh.
Shastri vs Ganguly: The fight
The duo had a public spat in June 2016 over the appointment of India’s new coach. Shastri alleged Ganguly lobbied for Kumble to replace him as coach, and also convinced the other panel members, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, to do so. Shastri also claimed that Ganguly was “disrespectful” as he was not present for the interview for the new coach. Ganguly hit back saying Shastri should not have been in Bangkok, giving a presentation while being on a holiday.
--By A Cricket Correspondent