Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, both are very successful player and captained the India team. They highly contrast against each other in their nature. Both have their own way and led the team very differently.
Sourav Ganguly, the former captain of India was aggressive whereas the present Sipper Dhoni is very calm and cool. While Sourav was regarded as a tiger, Dhoni is known as Mr. Cool. For quite some time the cricket lovers have been divided into two, one debating for Sourav as the best captain and the other favoring Dhoni.
It is really difficult to choose one in-between these two. Even the cricket experts vary in their thoughts, some favors Sourav while some say choose Dhoni. Those in favor of Dhoni have got more reasons to support them after Dhoni wins the 21st test match and levels that with the record of Sourav Ganguly. But to truly compare between the two we have to take into account these factors.
The scenario when they became a skipper
It was the year 2000. Indian cricket was going through a disaster. Match fixing had casted a dark cloud over the Indian cricket with many players being associated in the scandal. Even Sachin refused to be the captain. Sachin’s batting was suffering as a captain as he could not take the pressures of captaincy, although I do NOT think Sachin was a bad captain.
India used to be succumb to pressure and sledging in foreign soil especially by teams like Australia and England. Sourav Ganguly was the first captain, who could repay Australia in their own coin. Australia were infamous in their sledging and they used to get under the skin of their opposition. Ganguly started the tradition of the new aggressive Indian team and they got under skin of the opposition in the famous 2001 series of Australia tour to India. And a very important gritty century in Brisbane, when all other batsmen struggled in the first test that kicked off the important series when India toured Australia. That infused a lot belief in other players and confidence.
It was then when Sourav stepped forward to take this great responsibility on his shoulders. He took over the team with courage and became very successful. Sourav also went against selectors and wont bow down until he got the players he wanted. This tradition was also started by him. Players like harbhajan, yuvraj, sehwag, laxman who were dropped were brought back. VVS Laxman and Harbhajan were surprise selections on the historic 2001 series and both of them proved match winners for a long time along with Sehwag and Yuvraj.
Dhoni took over captaincy when the team was already doing well in the test matches. It was the ODIs that had issues. Rahul Dravid resigned from captaincy after a heartbreaking performance in the World Cup of 2007. Dhoni was named captain and won the twenty-twenty world cup of 2007 held in South Africa.
Ganguly had shown vision into the future, unlike any other former captains of India. He was aggressive and courageous. He always backed his players and was never afraid of criticisms. He had always been on the news for his outrageous nature and controversies. The team really performed as a unit under his strong leadership.
Dhoni on the other hand is completely opposite in character. He is always calm and has strong nerves. He can keep his head cool even in the most heart pumping situations. He can make the best use of the resources available to them. Hardly has he ever been scorned for any misconduct on or off the field.
When we had seen Gunguly opening his t-shirt and waving it in excitement after winning the Natwest trophy in England, we saw Dhoni perfectly calm with a gentle smile even after winning the World Cup. Ganguly was often observed biting his finger nails in pressurized situations but we see Dhoni smile even in the most nerve crackling moments.
Being a big match player
Dhoni, wins the race when it comes down to being a big match winner. He has played more captains innings than sourav ganguly in big matches. Obviously we have to understand that dhoni has not done so at the test levels, but as far as one-day internationals and Twenty20’s are concerned dhoni is a better batsmen when the chips are down, and can turn a match on its head.
Ganguly had a huge impact on the Indian team. He changed the bad record of India playing abroad. With his captaincy he took India to the second position in world cricket rankings. He developed a team from the scratch. During his period a lot of new players got chance to play for India and some of the notable names is Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh etc.
Dhoni already had a good team to begin with. But he changed the tag of ‘chokers’ from the Indian team. His team complements each other very well and has won The World Cup in ODI as well as that of twenty-twenty.
Ganguly was a top order batsman and opened the innings for India. He often built the foundation of score that led to India’s victory in many matches. Dhoni on the other hand is a clinical finisher. He is known for his big ‘Helicopter shot’ and has won many matches that ran down to the last over with his huge shots.
Well from the above, it can be concluded that Sourav is more of a visionary and revolutionary when it comes to the context to the contribution of Indian cricket. He changed the way we approached the sport as a nation. When Dhoni came the stage was already set, and you could argue he had less things to worry off the field, but he did turn out to be a better technician on the field. Probably, this is a never ending debate. It’s only a matter of personal choice. Choosing one over the other won’t be easily accepted.