New Delhi: Sourav Ganguly is credited by many for changing the perception of the Indian team as one that couldn't win away from home when he was captain of the side in the early 2000s. He had succeeded Sachin Tendulkar and took over at a time when India was still reeling from the match-fixing scandal that led to bans for former skipper Mohammad Azharuddin and star batsman Ajay Jadeja.
Indian Cricketers' Association chief Ashok Malhotra, who was part of the selection panel at the time, said that it was tougher to make Ganguly the vice-captain before that.
"See, if I remember correctly, picking Sourav Ganguly as a vice-captain was a tougher job. I remember we picked him in Calcutta and the coach had some things to say -- drinks too much Coke, takes singles but not twos, etc. In the bargain, I said having a Thumbs Up does not disqualify him as a vice-captain," Malhotra told Sportskeeda in a video interview on Facebook.
"And then we had quite a big discussion. 3-2 was voted in favour of Sourav as vice-captain. But then, I won't name the President, but he walked into the selection, which has never ever happened in the history of the BCCI. And he and the Chairman told us, 'Gentlemen, let's do some rethinking.'
"Two of us still stuck to our guns, but one selector said, 'No, the President has said it so I will go with him.' So we didn't make him vice-captain then but later on, we managed to (make him). I know today he's a legendary captain, but a little bit of effort was there to make him captain, and even vice-captain."
Malhotra said that later, when it came time to decide upon a captain to replace Tendulkar, spin great Anil Kumble and Jadeja were the frontrunners.
"None of us knew Sourav Ganguly would become the captain, because Sachin was the captain then. But once he resigned, we had to convince everyone to make him captain because Anil Kumble and Ajay Jadeja were in line. I had to work overtime," he said.
Ganguly led India to a dramatic victory over the mighty Australian team in a Test series at home in 2001. The team then won the 2002 NatWest series in England and finished runners-up in the 2003 World Cup. He is also credited with allowing the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh become established international cricketers and captained M.S. Dhoni in his initial years. Dhoni would later win the 2011 World Cup as captain of India himself.