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Last Updated: Monday, 16 July 2007, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
Ganguly back in the limelight
By Jamie Lillywhite

Sourav Ganguly
Ganguly is again a key part of both the Test and one-day teams

When Sourav Ganguly was dropped from India's team two years ago following a public spat with coach Greg Chappell, his international career looked over.

On Thursday, however, he will crown a remarkable comeback when he plays against England at Lord's, the ground on which he made his Test debut 11 years ago.

Prominent Indian cricketers are figures of fervent fascination in their homeland, but the fluctuating fortunes of Ganguly's career have captured more attention than most.

India's longest-serving Test captain, with 21 victories from 49 matches, he now has to settle for an occasional word of advice when invited to offer one by successor Rahul Dravid

But even that represents a victory of sorts after what happened in 2005 when an e-mail from Chappell to India's Board of Control [BCCI], in which he criticised Ganguly, was made public.

In it, he reportedly said Ganguly was no longer "physically or mentally fit" to be captain.

Ganguly wasted no time in enlisting support from the Indian media and eventually the board had to intervene and order a truce between the pair.

Despite Chappell's claim that their differences had been "exaggerated", it was not long before Ganguly found himself out of the team.

"The row with Greg Chappell just added to the mystery, but he was going through a really bad patch then, his only score [of note] was a hundred against Zimbabwe and that didn't count for much," said Chandresh Narayanan, chief cricket correspondent of the Times of India.

GANGULY FACTFILE
Born: 8.7.72, Calcutta
93 Tests
5,563 runs, average 40.90, 13x100, 27x50, highest score 173, 26 wickets, 64 catches
295 ODIs
10,898 runs, average 41.59, 22x100, 68x50, highest score 183, 97 wickets, 100 catches

Narayanan has followed Ganguly's career closely and acknowledges that his sometimes aloof attitude, which has seen him given the soubriquet 'Lord Snooty', has not done him any favours.

Ganguly has always had a well developed sense of his own worth.

"In 1991-2 when he toured Australia as an 18-year-old, he was the baby of the squad.

"But even at that age Sourav earned the reputation of being an arrogant guy and some sources said he refused to carry drinks out, saying it was not his job.

"So all that went against him and he was out in the wilderness," Narayanan told BBC Sport.

Ganguly was punished by being left out of the team for four years.

And even when he was recalled for the 1996 tour to England, there was speculation that it owed much to the influence of then board treasurer Jagmohan Dalmiya, who also hails from Calcutta.

"It was claimed his place was guaranteed because certain officials from his zone played a huge part in the selection of the India team," Narayanan explained.

"But he proved everybody wrong, he got a century at Lord's and another one at Trent Bridge and became India's best batsman along with Tendulkar."

For the next nine years, Ganguly was a near ever present and became India's longest serving and most successful Test captain, with 21 victories from 49 matches.

"As a captain he added steel to the team, rallied them, he was like an action hero from the Hollywood movies," said Narayanan.

But following a drawn three-Test series with Pakistan early in 2005, in which he made only 48 runs, things came to a head in Zimbabwe and led to him being relieved of the captaincy which passed to Dravid, his former deputy.

Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid
Rahul Dravid applauds Ganguly's debut century at Lord's in 1996

Ganguly could simply have walked away - but such is his pride that he refused to accept his fate and focused on finding a way back into the team.

He was helped by youngsters like Suresh Raina failing to make the most of opportunities given to them and in late 2006 he was recalled after an absence of 41 one-day internationals and seven Tests.

"The Indian team was going through a bad phase and they had to turn to Sourav, who proved his worth," said Narayanan.

Ganguly made an unbeaten half century in his first Test innings back in the team in South Africa, added another fifty in the same series and recorded his 13th Test century against Bangladesh in Chittagong.

And so, with Chappell now out of the picture, Ganguly's career will come full circle when he returns to Lord's.

If he can repeat the hundred he made in 1996, no-one will be more pleased than Dravid, who also made his first Test appearance in that same match.

"These two guys have played together since junior cricket and have been through thick and thin. They have changed the face of Indian cricket," Narayanan added.



SEE ALSO
Ganguly & Gambhir see India home
23 Jun 07 |  Ireland
Ganguly reflects on 'worst year'
02 Jan 06 |  Cricket
Chappell and Ganguly agree truce
27 Sep 05 |  Cricket
Indian soap opera
23 Sep 05 |  Cricket


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