Vantage point

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Dada does it again!!!

After four rich years, there are still some Indians who keep muttering "Throw Ganguly Out..." in the background. There are questions about his batting technique, his fielding, and even his captaincy.

Yesterday would have been another educational day for these people. But i doubt if they will change their opinions. They will just keep quiet and wait for a failure when they can chant louder. Had the winning team yesterday been New Zealand or Australia, several white-skin-crazy Indian cricket fans would have been singing praises of Stephen Fleming/Ricky Ponting. Yet, these people would feel pained praising Ganguly's tactical brilliance.

It was not only tactical brilliance on his part, but also an ability to keep his cool under enormous pressure. Ever since taking over the reins of the team, ganguly has inculcated in his men a strong self-belief. This team keeps its cool in the most trying circumstances. More so while defending a total.

The Indian pace bowlers of the 80s and 90s had a pathetic record of defending targets. In the final overs, they always ended up bowling too full, and giving the game away. The ability to maintain line and length in a crunch situation often depends more on mental ability than cricketing talent. A player who is from a mentally strong team will not let the situation get the better of him.

In the 90s, we had only one bowler(!!) who had the balls to maintain his line and length in crunch situations - Sachin Tendulkar, who got us famous last-over wins against Australia and South Africa. It warms the heart to see that almost any pace bowler today can hold his nerve even as he bowls the last over while defending a target.

In the last dozen matches that India has played, three different bowlers have stepped up to the task and pulled it off. In the series in Australia, Balaji's last over foiled an inspired fightback from the Zimbabwean middle order. Against Pakistan, in the first ODI in Karachi, it was Nehra who bowled the over with orecision. And yesterday, it was the much-maligned Zaheer Khan, who stepped up and gave the proof of his ability.

The architect of these wins is the captain himself, who threw the ball at those fellows. We don't know what he says to them, but it definitely works. Being instrumental in making a bowler achieve a last over win under tremendous pressure, is something only a great leader can do.

And in Saurav Chandidas Ganguly, we have one such great leader.