A lot was happening in the cricket world especially in Indian cricket when we entered the year 2000. After that match fixing saga in 2000 that completely shook the cricket world an all new Gangly era was to start, he was appointed as the captain of the Indian cricket team for the ICC Knockout Tournament now known as the ICC Champions Trophy. An all new challenge was in the hands of Ganguly Career to take India to the heights with Indian Cricket going through some severe up and downs and the like of some young guns on the side.
Ganguly to lead from the front but the luck factor played its role as India lost to the Kiwis in the final despite a superb knock of 117 by Ganguly, he eventually ended up on the losing side. Ganguly’s performance throughout the tournament was outstanding both with the bat and with his captaincy skills. He made a quick fire 66 against Kenya, followed by a magnificent knock of 141 against the Proteas. After this series, Ganguly never looked back and went on to win the next ICC Champions Trophy in 2002 where India was declared joint Champions with Sri Lanka as the final was washed away.
In 2002, Ganguly lead from the front and took India to its maiden Champions Trophy win. The start was not so good as he only managed to score 13 in the opening game against Zimbabwe but later on followed with a gem of 117 run knock against England. He again disappointed with the bat against South Africa but made some pretty good decisions once Gibbs left the field to take the victory away from the Proteas. Later on in 2004, India went into the tournament as defending champions’ hopes were higher and the pride was at stake.
India started off well by beating Kenya in their opening match in which Gangly made a stupendous 90 but later on defeat to Pakistan lead them out of the tournament and for the first time India didn’t manage to reach the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy and had to go back home empty-handed. Previous to this India under the caption ship of DADA managed to reach the ICC World Cup finals in 2003 in South Africa for the first time after 1983 World Cup win under Kapil Dev but it wasn’t India’s day as a mighty and dangerous looking Australian side demolished India by 125 runs to win the title for the second time in four years.
India started the campaign well with a 68 run win against the Dutch (Netherlands) but a heartbreaking loss to Australia by 9 wickets in the next match see India’s hopes demolishing but Where there is DADA, There is always a comeback. In the very next game against Zimbabwe India strike back with a 83 run win and then a huge win of 181 against Namibia cured the disaster that Australian defeat did but these are all easy teams to get over whoever said that got his answer in the next game when India beat England comprehensively by 82 runs and it looked like the Indian rail was back on the track. Then the match arrived for the whole of the cricket world was waiting for- an India vs Pakistan match that for a quarter final in a World Cup just can’t get better than this. India continued its streak of never losing to Pakistan in a World Cup match knocking out Pakistan out of the tournament and who can forget those sixes from Sachin and Sehwag off Shoaib Akhtar and Waqar Younis over Third Man boundary. That day Ganguly gave India the best gift every Indian dreamed of but the journey was still not over as the next it was challenged in the super six.
India was held high in confidence after that win over arch-rivals Pakistan and managed to win both their next two encounters against Kenya and New Zealand thus qualifies for the semis of this prestigious trophy. In the 1st semi-final Australia beat Sri Lanka while India beat Kenya in the 2nd semi-final to enter the finals. That earlier defeat to Kangaroos was still in the minds and this looked like a repeat telecast of what we had seen earlier in the group matches. Australia winning the toss and choosing to bat first, Aussies put a huge total of 359 on the board with century from Ponting and a well made 88 from Martyn which almost decided the game at half time. India in search of a good start with Sachin and Sehwag at the crease, Sachin sends the very first ball to the boundary giving some hopes but the very next ball he was sent back to the pavilion by McGrath and the disaster continued. Gangly and Dravid looked a little better but couldn’t hold on longer but a 82 run knock from Sehwag once raised some expectations but a direct hit from Lehman to run out Sehwag ended India’s hopes for their 2nd ever title and first under Ganguly. India managed to reach 234 and after all that hard work for over a month they came back home empty-handed but winning and losing is part of the game and we should respect the fact that we reached the final all thanks to Sourav Ganguly for his brilliant all round performance and encouraging the players to give their best.
Undoubtedly, he is the best India has got till date.