It is the stuff of dreams for cricket fans as Sourav Ganguly -- arguably, India's finest captain -- revealed five current cricketers he would have loved to have in his team.
Speaking to India opener Mayank Agarwal on BCCI's Twitter handle, Dada said: 'Every generation the players are different. Players face challenges differently in different generations -- pitches, quality of opposition.'
No surprise that his first picks were Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
Dada, who had Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan among other fast bowlers at his command, then picked pace aces Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.
'I would have loved to have Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma in the side. I will go for Bumrah because I had Zaheer (Khan) at the other end. I would also go for Mohammed Shami after Javagal Srinath retired because I think Shami is a fantastic bowler,' Dada disclosed.
The records state that Ganguly is one of India's most successful Test captains, with 21 victories from 45 matches from 2000 to 2005 -- the third best after Virat Kohli (33 wins from 55 matches) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (27 wins from 60 Tests).
But those numbers don't reveal what he did to transform the Indian cricket team.
Ganguly, who had a rough time when he traveled to Australia for his debut tour in 1992, ensured that the cricketers under his charge were always given opportunity to prove themselves.
Harbhajan Singh. Yuvraj Singh. Virender Sehwag. Irfan Pathan. Some of the many cricketers who matured in the Ganguly era. He gave them self belief, the confidence that they would be given time to prove their worth to the national cause, not picked and dropped as so many Indian cricketers were in the decades preceding the new century.
Indian cricket changed under his leadership. Ganguly didn't kow-tow to the Australians and Englishmen, giving them as good as it gets, which is why he wasn't popular with the cricketers and pundits abroad during his playing days.
Without Dada, we say, there wouldn't be the Dhoni or Kohli eras in Indian cricket. When he stepped down as captain, Ganguly ensured that his successors inherited his legacy of playing it tough always, always playing to win. No matter how bitter the odds.
Ganguly's final choice from the current lot of Indian cricketers is a suprise: Ravichandran Ashwin.
Remember Dada already had two great spinners in his team: Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
'I had Harbhajan and Anil Kumble in my side, so Ashwin would be my third spinner. I would be very tempted to have Ravindra Jadeja also,' Ganguly, now the BCCI president, said.
Imagine the quality of players Ganguly would have at his disposal if he had Kohli and Sharma, Ashwin, Bumrah and Shami in his team.
With the swashbuckling duo of Sehwag and Rohit opening the batting, the match could turn in the matter of just one session, with the likes of Rahul Dravid, Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Ganguly and V V S Laxman coming in next.
If any bowling attack managed to get past those batting stalwarts, things certainly would not get easier with Mahendra Singh Dhoni to follow.
Any visiting team would struggle to cope against the spin trio of Kumble, Harbhajan and Ashwin on the turning tracks in India, while the pace attack comprising Zaheer, Bumrah and Shami would be handful for any batting line-up overseas.
Captain Ganguly would have his task cut out picking the playing XI from the list below:
- Sourav Ganguly (captain)
- Sachin Tendulkar
- Virat Kohli
- Rohit Sharma
- Rahul Dravid
- V V S Laxman
- Mahendra Singh DhonI
- Anil Kumble
- Harbhajan Singh
- Ravichandran Ashwin
- Zaheer Khan
- Jasprit Bumrah
- Mohammed Shami
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