Sourav Ganguly doubled up as a useful medium-pacer for his team © Getty Images
Sourav Ganguly doubled up as a useful medium-pacer for his team © Getty Images

Sourav Ganguly is the synonym of class, elegance and aggression. He is one of the finest cricketers and captains India have ever produced. The ‘Prince of Kolkata’ started his career as a genuine all-rounder, but with time and age his bowling faded away. On his 43rd birthday, straight from the lost record books, Sandipan Banerjee unearths Dada’s top five bowling spells in international cricket.

How do you remember Sourav Ganguly? Most of your answers will be either as a classy batsman or a true leader on and off the field. But do you know in several occasions, his most neglected and underrated skill, bowling, used to change the course of a match.

Apart from scoring 18,575 international runs, Ganguly also has 199 wickets. So to celebrate his 43rd Birthday, lets have a look at his top five bowling spells.

Five for 16 against Pakistan at Toronto:

(September 18, 1998)

Without any doubt this was his best ever bowling spell. In September 1997, India were in Toronto to play a five-match One-Day International (ODI) series (Sahara Friendship Cup) against arch-rivals Pakistan.  This was the third match of the series. Batting first, India could only manage to score 182. In reply, at one point of time, Pakistan were 79 for one. Then came Ganguly’s magic. ALSO READ: Sourav Ganguly’s 5 for 16 against Pakistan in Toronto

The Pakistan batsmen didn’t have any answer of his swing and accuracy. He just ripped apart the Pakistan middle order. Ijaz Ahmed, Saleem Malik, Hasan Raza, Moin Khan, and Aaqib Javed were his victims. Ganguly finished with a figure of of five for 16 in his 10 overs. It was an amazing spell.  India won the game by a comfortable margin of 34 runs. Ganguly was deservingly chosen as the Man of the Match.

 Three for 33 against Pakistan at Toronto:

(September 12, 1998)

This spell arrived in the same series, in the first ODI of the series. India were bowling first. On a windy day at Toronto, Pakistan managed to get off to a decent start. They were 71 for one, when Ganguly removed Aamer Sohail with a brilliant inswinger. He struck twice after that and got Inzamam-ul-Haq and Abdul Razzaq. The backbone of the Pakistan batting was broken and they could only manage  189. During India’s chase, Ganguly scored 54 and India won the game comfortably. Another Man of the Match effort.

Five for 34 against Zimbabwe at Kanpur

(December 11, 2000)

It was the second time in two years Ganguly got a five-for. This was the fourth ODI of a five-match series in the winter of 2000. Coming into the game, India were leading the series 2-1. In this game batting first, Zimbabwe were batting were all-out for just 165. Ganguly bowled exceptionally and got rid of the cream of Zimbabwe’s batting. Andy Flower, Stuart Carlisle, Grand Flower, Heath Streak and Travis Friend were his victims. Later opening the batting, he scored unbeaten 71 to help India win the match and the series.

Three for 41 against Australia in Sydney

(January 22, 2004)

This was the seventh game of the tri-series India were involved in during their tour in 2003-04. India batted first and scored a competitive 296. While chasing, Adam Gilchrist came out all guns blazing. But the match was halted by rain and Australia were asked to chase 225 from 34 overs. Ganguly brought India back in the game with his bowling spell of three for 41 in seven overs. He removed Andrew Symonds, Michael Bevan, and Michael Clarke in a crucial juncture of the game. Though India narrowly lost the game, this spell was one of his best ones.

Three for 71 against England (Test)

(July 4 to 9 in 1996)

This was during the third Test of of his debut series. India batted first and put up 521 in their first innings, courtesy centuries from Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar. In reply, England, led by Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain’s own centuries, gained a lead of 43 runs. It was in this innings that Ganguly got Graham Thorpe, and tailenders Min Patel and Allan Mullally out. Thorpe was done in by a ball swinging into him when shaped to flick a ball on middle. The match was eventually drawn. Ganguly collected a total of six wickets in that series.

Special mention: Apart from these, there are few more important spells Ganguly bowled, which require a special mention.

In 1998 Eden Test against Australia, he took the new ball and got rid of Mark Taylor with a beautiful out swinger. On that spell he took three for 28.

In 1999 Nagpur ODI, Ganguly got four wickets in four overs.

During 2004 Eden Test against South Africa, he cleaned up Jacques Kallis with a beautiful in swinger.

These are few memorable moments of his bowling career.

(Sandipan Banerjee is a reporter at CricketCountry. Cricket has been the biggest passion for him since his childhood. So, when it came to choosing his career, he chose to turn his passion into his profession. Apart from cricket he likes mountain trekking, river rafting, and photography. His twitter handle is @im_sandipan)