Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly is credited for grooming some quality Indian cricketers cricket has ever seen. Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni, who are now big names in the cricketing world, build their identity after grabbing the opportunity given by Ganguly.
Ganguly believed in giving chances to youngsters and he even gave up his batting position at times to fit in a player.
While talking to Gaurav Kapur in his famous show, Breakfast with Champions, Ganguly revealed how he gave Sehwag a much-needed chance which changed his life. Sehwag before making his debut to the Indian side had played in middle-order for his state team.
But Ganguly tried him on the opening spot in both ODI and Test format which completely changed his fate. Sehwag went on to score two triple centuries in Tests. He also has a double hundred in ODIs against West Indies.
"Like when Viru opened. During selection, people asked why are you taking him for an away tour. He won't manage bouncers. They'll hit him in the head with bouncers.
"And I replied: 'You are judging him without even seeing him play or giving him an opportunity'. Then he ended up scoring a century on his debut in South Africa. After that, we did not have a position for him in the middle order, so one day I told him...Viru, no one made a career by sitting on the bench. Why don't you open? And opening is not a skill anyone is born with. If [Matthew] Hayden and [Justin] Langer could do it, so can you.
"Viru told me he had never opened and batted only at 5 or 6 for Delhi. 'What if I get out?' I told him you can get out even in the middle order. And I batted down the order so that I could have him in my team. And then he opened in England and scored a century...
"He is a little mad and keeps telling me you never played me in the middle order. I told him 'you would not have been half the player with that kind of impact and match-winning ability...that would not have come by playing in the middle order," Ganguly said.
Later he shared about the day when he promoted Dhoni in the batting order and it did wonders for the Indian team. The wicket-keeper batsman had few failures after making debut for India in 2004 against Bangladesh. But when Ganguly decided to give up his batting position for the then youngster it gave India one of the best limited-overs batsmen.
"When Dhoni came into the side in 2004, he played at No.7 in the first two matches. We went to Vizag (vs Pakistan) I was watching the news and wondering how could make a player out of Dhoni. He had great potential.
"The next day in the morning, we did our warm-ups, did the toss, won it and decided to bat. While coming back I decided I will send him up the order. We'll see what the result is. He was sitting in shorts because he knew he would bat at No.7. I told him to go up at No.3 and he asked 'what about you?' I said 'I will bat at No.4'. And he went and scored 148.
"That is how you players are made," Ganguly said.
Ganguly lauded Dhoni and expressed the happiness of watching him play. "Dhoni is very courageous. I feel happy seeing MS because when we started playing cricket there was no cricketer from the east. No players used to play and used to think there won't be a player this side. And we both captained so many matches, we played so many matches...T20 wasn't there in our time. I played approximately 450 matches. That day in Cardiff MS played his 500th. I feel good because a part of India where not many cricketers came from, 2 captains came from that side. Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni that's the proud moment," he said.
The president of Cricket Association of Bengal also spoke about the upcoming Test series of India and England. "When Virat Kohli plays, wherever you are you will come and watch that because he is playing. That is his impact. When you look at him, you will get to know that this man has a mission of making his team the best," Ganguly said.
"There is fitness and yo-yo test. People criticize it but there is a reason behind these tests. You have to be mentally tough. Now cricket is fitness oriented and sports has changed over the years. I have a lot of hopes from Virat Kohli and nation believes in him," he added.