Sourav Ganguly has revealed that he had first rejected MS Dhoni’s offer to lead India to victory in the Nagpur Test but couldn’t turn him down the second time. The former India skipper had already announced his retirement from Tests prior to that series and Dhoni wanted him to end it on a good note.
Ganguly had redefined the meaning of captaincy after he took charge of it in 2000 following the match-fixing saga broke out in Indian cricket. In the 49 Test matches that he had captained, Indian had registered 21 wins, 13 losses and 15 drawn games. However, his glorious playing career stint was coming to an end in 2008 when Anil Kumble was leading the side in Tests and Ganguly was struggling to find himself in the starting eleven.
Prior to the Test series against Australia, his selection in the squad was questionable and was eventually left out on Dhoni’s recommendation, as we famously saw in MSD’s biopic. However, the southpaw made a return to the Test side on the home turf following that series and had already announced his retirement plans before the start of the series.
On the last day of the fourth Test in Nagpur, Dhoni, who took over the captaincy after Kumble got injured and retired abruptly, has famously asked Ganguly to lead the side to victory with one Australian wicket remaining. While many know this gesture, not everyone knew that Ganguly had initially rejected it.
“As the match came to a close, Mahendra Singh 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,” Ganguly has been quoted in his upcoming autobiography “A Century Is Not Enough.”
“Ironically, my captaincy career had begun exactly eight years ago on this very day. 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,” Ganguly said.
Ganguly had made a classy 85-run knock in first innings of that game as Sachin Tendulkar went on to get his century. And he revealed that not reaching the triple figure was devastating for him although he was delighted for Tendulkar’s ton.
“The man the Indian selectors had kept on an indefinite trial did stand up to the Australian attack and walked away with a solid 85. I missed the coveted three-figure mark only by 15 runs but my friend Sach [Tendulkar] lent an additional flavour to the party by getting a rock-solid hundred.”
“What made the occasion happier was that we won the Test. I ended my final innings in Test cricket in a first-ball duck. Looking back I still feel it was a loose shot as I tried to play Jason Krejza against the turn. The bat had closed early and Krejza easily accepted a low return catch. I have no regrets. It was a bad shot and I paid the price. But I still regret missing the hundred. It was mine for the taking,” he further added.