Mumbai v Kolkata, IPL, Mumbai March 22, 2010

The clock is ticking for Sourav Ganguly

Cricinfo staff
This is not the end of the road for Sourav Ganguly because he remains crucial to Kolkata's brand image and leadership, but he somehow needs to inspire himself to overcome his failings, before he can inspire his team

It is getting sadder by the day. To witness Sourav Ganguly, once a proud man, resemble a slow and ageing boxer, entering the ring tired and sluggish is a sad sight. That image of an intense Ganguly, staring his opponent in the face and steadily infuriating his enemy with his attitude, strategy and daring, is now a thing of the past. Instead what remains is an athlete, forcibly fighting against time and playing in a format that is uncompromising.

After five games in this IPL, Ganguly has yet to complete 100 runs - he is two short of that mark and has a paltry average of 19.60. Lesser-known batsmen like Manish Pandey, Saurabh Tiwary, Ambati Rayudu, to list a few, have shown more character and had more impact on the fate of their teams than Ganguly has. And, before you say that all these three are youngsters, more suitable for the format, what of the dominance of Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Adam Gilchrist and Anil Kumble? All these men are on the other side of 30, all Ganguly's peers, but it is only the Kolkata captain, who finds himself in an isolated corner, sitting numb from the punches thrown at him.

Today was the first instance of Ganguly walking in as an opener in this IPL. In the first four matches he batted at No.3, and in the previous match, against Rajasthan, he had come in as No. 4. But Ganguly batting in the middle-order was always going to be a gamble considering he lacked the firepower he once possessed to take the bowling attack on. Also in the absence of Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum, Brad Hodge opened the innings in the company of Manoj Tiwary, but apart form the solid partnership in the home victory against Bangalore, that pairing had not proved to be successful.

After the defeat in Ahmedabad, Dav Whatmore said the loss would prompt a change in the batting order. For Ganguly, opening remains the most appropriate position in his present form where he could at least use the pace of the ball and the freshness in the pitch to his advantage along with some initiative. But that was not to be the case at Brabourne Stadium, which was once again filled to the brim with Mumbai supporters.

On the fifth ball of the fourth over, Zaheer Khan pitched a short delivery outside off stump. In his pomp Ganguly would've hit that ball over, or cut it past point for a definite four. In this instance it ended up being a hit and miss. Zaheer followed with the same delivery, maintaining the same line. Ganguly stepped out, failed to connect once again, ending up looking ridiculous. Immediately he asked for a change of gloves. Clearly, the erstwhile 'God of the off side' was nervous. The pattern did not change through the innings - even as Ganguly lengthened his stay, the run rate stayed stagnant.

The reasons behind Ganguly's failure to dominate can be many but the most important one is his slowness. His reflexes have dimmed. That impeccable placement has disappeared followed closely by the timing. Those wrists don't co-ordinate anymore with the bat to lend any direction to the drives, those legs stay planted to the spot. Even his charges against spinners invariably end in the hands of the fielder, where once they ended behind the ropes. Ganguly's actions have become predictable, making it easy for the bowlers to gain the uppherhand.

It is easy to put the detriment of age behind Ganguly's reverses but take the example of Tendulkar today. He was chalk to Ganguly's cheese: Tendulkar bristled, stayed athletic at all times, and urged his fielders and batsmen to remain pro-active, and dissected the bowlers clinically.

All this is not saying that Ganguly doesn't try doing the same. He does, only that, perhaps, time has overtaken him. Things happen in the Twenty20 format at run-time - all those net sessions add up to zero most times and what remains the key is recognising the moment to step up the ante. Today Ganguly had the opportunity many times to force the change with the bat. But he failed miserably. It was the same case against Rajasthan.

In fact it is not the first time he has been exposed in this format. In the inaugural season of the IPL, when Gayle was absent, McCullum left after four games and Brad Hodge was yet to be bought, Ganguly was the top run-getter with 349 runs at 29.08 but those runs could not save Kolkata from drowning. In South Africa, the following year, Ganguly struggled on the bouncier pitches and ended the tournament with 189 runs at 17.18.

This is not the end of the road for Ganguly because he remains Kolkata's brand image. Also he still retains the leadership qualities that are necessary to inspire the team and he is the most accomplished and capable man to lead the side. Only that he needs now to inspire himself first.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 26, 2010, 15:52 GMT

    Ya, some people are just so forgetful. They just forgot what a captain dada has been, how has thrashed the opponents over the boundaries and how he snatched away matches just from nowhere. Dada is a fighter, a fighter never tires out. If KKR is something in spite of being a team full of over estimated players due to the absurdity of some freaking bollywood business minds, it is only due to dada. If you are so keen to compare the DADA with any tom dick or harry, let me just remind you that he is a player one of his class. any yusuf pathan cant score 11000+ in ODIs nor any other sharma or tiwary can bang a 239 following a flop top order. take t20 and give me a match of breathtaking 91 against DC or a thrashing 87 against can hardly find some so well furnished one. Dada is one of his kind...........and obviously is invariant to any performance scale of KKR, dada is a cricketer, a captain one hardly can forget and a man with ultimate sportsman spirit

  • shobhit on March 26, 2010, 10:54 GMT

    with due respect to sourav gangully, i think lalit modi shud introduce a concept of non playing captain in IPL for the sake of KKR :) they dont have anyone better than dada for captaincy(i doubt if any team has, coz hez d best captain you can imagine for a team), but at the same time he does not deserves place in the batting order. plz retire from IPL too. i always want to remember sourav gangully as a lionhearted captain which I saw in Indian cricket for the first time and also a batsman who scored 200 against world champs at the age of 36....rather than remembring him as a failure in domestic t20s. plz retire. you have achieved a lot and made all of us proud. its painful to see you fail sir.

  • padfoot on March 24, 2010, 17:53 GMT

    a proud man like dada will surely return back with a bang... although it is evident he has been trying his best... to inspire a team of no-performers... Once Gayle gives them a bang bang start.. and bond takes some quick wickets.. dada will surely fire.with both captaincy and his bat...

  • Zeeshan on March 24, 2010, 17:25 GMT

    The person, who came up with such a 'childish' article as above, has forced me to join cricinfo. He, probably, must never have seen Dada play for or captain India, or even if he had seen him, he must have hated Dada like anything. If, the person would have seen very closely, he could have seen that KKR are not conceding anything over 170 when they bowl. It is because Dada is making the smart bowling changes and nothing else. At the same time, other sides are being hammered for 180 or even 200. I think that the above person needs to undergo some sort of eye checkup: he must have failed to see Dada's catch (to dismiss Mumbai Indians' Saurabh Tiwary) that would make even a 17-year old proud. If Dada's batting is taken into account, it is no fun to play around with the titles given to Dada. This chap has no right to demean Dada in the way he has in the above article. It is very much unfortunate that a web portal with such a stature has published an article of the above nature.

  • P on March 24, 2010, 17:03 GMT

    Dont know if Sourav was the best ever captain of India, but he has been a lousy captain for KKR. Pls remember he was involved in he selection of the KKR team at the initial auction.More than SRK or much-maligned Buchanan, he ought to hv picked better local talent, esp batting, since only 4 foreigners can play. KKR burnt up money on Ishant (poor performer), David Hussey (played few matches), Mushrafe (not played at all), Shane Bond, McCullum (v v inconsistent) and of course Sourav himself being the highest earning IPL player. this KKR team cant ever win the IPL. it cant even make to the semi-finals ahead of Mumbai Indians, Deccan Chargers, CSK, RCB, DD and RR. Likely fight for the 7th or 8th place with KXIP. Hi batting in even IPL1 & 2 were below par, I am surprised why ppl are finding it out now. He lacks match play practice and the iron self-discipline of Sachin.

  • Dummy4 on March 24, 2010, 13:53 GMT

    i found tears rolling from my eyes after reading this i am a diehard dada fan... my heart can't accept dada's ageing my mind accepts...this occurs for other dada fans only they are not trying to accept it..and they are still supporting him to play....but one thing if dada is not playing for kkr means kkr will loss half of it's fans strength....anyway dada please make some good knocks in this ipl...and just make a great retirement...v can see his ageing in his shots too...he thinks he has the ability to make great shots...but his body doesn't ...

  • Kalyan on March 24, 2010, 13:23 GMT

    Ganguly's player record speaks for itself

    113 TESTS 7212 42 avg (below average) 311 ODI 11363 41 avg (very good) 32 T20 626 22 avg, SR 102 (very poor)

    These are the facts and you decide how good player Gnaguly is all around.

    He is a great captain who changed the culture of Indian cricket and Indian dressing room etc etc.... I wonder why he is not able to change the culture of KKR? May be he doesn't have good players who will follow his culture in the KKR team. Let us see Who did he have in the Indian team when he was winning as captain Sachin, Dravid (the best form of his carrier in both tests and odis during Ganguly's tenure), Laxman, Veeru and Bhajji. Dravid's incerdible form was the X factor for Ganguly's great record as captain. So a captain is as good as his team as. People take too much credit for being a captain of great team.

    Finally Ganguly is a good player and a good captain nothing more than that.

  • Dummy4 on March 24, 2010, 10:18 GMT

    Well,Im nt surprised by this article.As always Media trying to highlight Souravs failure ..But that picture is from last IPL and not this IPL , look at the colour of KKR dress .So cricinfo ,keep writing against Sourav..he is used to it..But be carefull..DOnt mislead readers ;)

  • P on March 24, 2010, 7:59 GMT

    KKR must go out with the determination to win. U cant change the team and get great local batsmen suddenly. Dada should pick the right team, and I agree Ishant Sharma been the biggest disappointment. So, why not try Vignesh who did so well in ICL, plus Dinda and one of the two young Singhs? I wud hate to leave out Hodge, but one of him, Hussey and Oawis Shah shud play. about Dada, no point comparing other players of his age like sachin, dravid, jayasuriya, hayden, gilchrist. Dada's technical gaps are being ruthlessly exploited by all bowling sides, pitching it around his leg stump since he is such an uncertain hooker-puller-sweeper. sachin also gets into trouble with incoming balls at beginning of innings, but Ishant is too wayward to exploit it.

  • murugesh on March 24, 2010, 7:51 GMT

    really stupid article this...cricinfo...any problem with DADA... hi plz check with other player Dravid, Yuvi, Laxman, jeyasuriya, Gibbs, Smith, Jeyawardane, Sangakara.. plz tell who is performer in this ipl.. where is your article about this player...In IPL-1 kkr won 5games in which 3games purely belongs to dada.. Did any other captain icon player played like this.. why all the nasty statements u make about dada.. once u look at kkr team.. Did any player performing extremly better than sourav?! people watch kkr game because of one person. he is none other than our DADA,, when u don't have young bunch of local talent how one can lead the team,, once look at ishanth, saha, manoj.. the overseas players like hodge, bond, gayle also not performing well. I dont know what SRK is doing. is there any talented domestic player in KKR for this three years of IPL. with available sqad dada is performing etremely well. so aviod this useless article ...

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