The former Indian skipper was phenomenal in instilling the fearless approach inside Team India's dressing room     Twitter
The former Indian skipper was phenomenal in instilling the fearless approach inside Team India’s dressing room Rohit Gulati’s Official Twitter Account

Australia have always played the game with aggression. Their players are always known for getting into the skin of opponents. Not many teams have played the game this way in the 1990s but Australia were always involved in sledging and playing mind games, which often distracted the concentration of their rivals. India never uttered a word to their opponents nor replied back after being sledged, on the field. They believed in focusing on the job but these things became the need of hour in the 2000s. As much as Australia progressed each year after 2000, their aggressive and ruthless style of play also increased and was noticed by every team. India, on the other hand, were going through a tough phase as the infamous Mohammad Azharuddin era and the match-fixing scandal had just ended. ALSO READ:Ravi Shastri-Sourav Ganguly conflict: Shastri says interview on Skype as per BCCI conditions

Sourav Ganguly was appointed as the Indian captain and his success as captain is known to the whole world, but what quality did he imbibe from the mighty Australians? What is the most treasured thing that Ganguly has brought or rather given to the team even after his departure, both as captain and player? It is the sheer aggression with which he carried himself on the field that rubbed on his players and after sometime, the Indian team also started looking to their opponents in the eye. Though till date, India are not very good sledgers but play the game with apt aggression. This quality was instilled in them thanks to Ganguly. Since Ganguly took over the reins of Indian team, they have never refrained from taking on the opponents and seldom kept quite after being distracted. This was one of the reasons why India fared well under him.

He also tried his hand with playing mind games with none other than, Steve Waugh of Australia. He kept him waiting at the toss during Australia s historic tour of India in 2001. The Australian captain was known for his mental disintegration tactics and encouraged his men to sledge, talk and get in the opposition’s face. Ganguly decided to change all that. His delayed arrival at the toss undoubtedly angered Waugh and the Indian players backed that up with constant chatter on the field.

Another such incident happened in during England s tour of India in 2001. Andrew Flintoff led his side s resurgence in the six-match One-Day International (ODI) series as they came from behind to draw the series at 3-3. A jubilant Flintoff took off his shirt after victory and roared loudly in the stadium. His happiness and arrogance was noticed and remembered by Ganguly. In India s return series in 2002, they won a historic cliff hanger against England in the NatWest series final and this time it was Ganguly who had the last laugh. He took off his shirt and did the same thing in the Lord s balcony, a scene which has become memorable in Indian cricket s history.

His field settings were also aggressive and had good amount of fielders in the close in circles during Test matches. He pushed for wins and never played for a draw. It is known that Ganguly always pushed his players for glory and backed them to the fullest. Under him, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh s careers reached new heights. In the team meetings and selections, he fought with others to pick them in his side. If we take a look at these four players, all were relatively aggressive in their games and gave fitting replies to the opponents if and when distracted. ALSO READ:Sourav Ganguly, Ravi Shastri should have kept things confidential

During Sehwag s 309 against Pakistan in Mutlan, he was continuously disturbed by Shoaib Akhtar s words. He consistently asked him to try and play his favourite hook shot and not leave his timely bouncers. To this, Sehwag replied that he is here to bowl and not beg. Yuvraj and Harbhajan never kept shut when they were sledged by opponents. In fact, this brought the best out of them. After the Monkey-gate incident in India s tour Down Under (2007-08), Harbhajan had a good tri-series Down Under whereas when Flintoff was trying to bully Yuvraj in the inaugural edition of the ICC World T20 2007, he smashed the next over for six sixes. Zaheer, on the other hand, was and has been probably the best sledger for the team which used to get him important breakthroughs as well. It clearly shows that Ganguly s aggression brand of cricket rubbed on his juniors. These things were not a part of Indian cricket in the 90s. ALSO READ:Sourav Ganguly, the Greg Chappell saga and selecting right candidate for India coaching job

Among the current crop of cricketers in the Indian camp, there is hardly any player who does not believe in giving it back to the opponents. Virat Kohli is undoubtedly leading the charge while others are also not behind. It is very much because of the aggression brought in by the former Indian captain. The culture brought in by him is very much being followed in the dressing room of the current Indian side. He has made India an aggressive force among other teams in the world today.

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)