Ganguly’s captaincy is under fire for India’s loss in the Bangalore test. Ganguly probably was expecting the blowtorches anyway. He has led the side for 47 tests and he is all too familiar with the ways of the Indian sports fan and the Indian media.
On the other hand, the cricket fan knows their team too well. When the team focuses and performs to plan, it is a treat to watch. Once in a while, almost improbably, the team comes back from the brink thanks to a Laxman-Dravid style partnership. And we have one depressed nation when the team takes what is a sitter and makes a complete mess of it.
So it was with the present India versus Pakistan series. They gave away an easy victory in the first test, scraped through in the second and surrendered somewhat meekly in the third. There is not much to rave about this performance against a team that was not particularly strong.
Everyone is equally responsible for the mud they got in their face. Why blame Ganguly for the team’s non-performance? If it is about his bad performance with the bat, that is not something that suddenly cropped up in the third test (when was the last time he played a memorable innings?). As for his inability to lead from the front, come on guys, he was never the best player on the team.
Ganguly cannot be blamed for lack of a proper game plan either. The failure can be attributed to a lack of poor execution or the absence of a clear backup plan, but there was a game plan to begin with. Ganguly’s plan was a frontal assault on Pakistan. "In my mind I was going for the target," said Sehwag after he was run out. When the front failed was when things unraveled – the tail and the flanks were clueless as to what to do.
There are some in the media that defend Ganguly’s place in the team for his leadership qualities. (see http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1064880.cms) It is true that Ganguly has brought to the Indian team a killer instinct that it sorely lacked. The other great asset of Sourav is that he has risen over partisan interests and backed the racehorses he believed in like Kaif and Yuvraj.
As long back as March of 2004, when Ganguly had scored just 155 runs in 10 tests, Gaekwad had said, “his focus seems to be shifting from batting to leadership. He seems more involved with the boys and encouraging them rather than concentrating on his (own) batting.”
What is remarkable is Gaekwad’s pronouncement as he peered into the crystal ball! He predicted that “if Ganguly’s poor form continues, it is also possible that his captaincy will be affected.” That, my friends, is the point. That danger has now materialized.
The poor form has affected his captaincy! The only thing Ganguly has going for him now is his great record – a 19 to 13 win loss record in 47 tests is hard to match. In India, that is called poorva karma. So it is unlikely that he will be replaced any time soon.
Indian cricket’s wise men are the best fence-sitters in the world. Take it from me, if you are waiting for them to replace Ganguly, his record will have to look a lot shabbier than 19-13. My guess is that he may have another 3 to 4 matches to work on his form and his karma.
All you will see until then is some armchair saber-rattling by reactionary fans on the forums and bulletin boards.