When the Indian cricket team was in a turmoil post the match-fixing scandal in 1998, it was Sourav Ganguly who rebuilt the team bit by bit. In the process, he instilled self-belief in his players and carried the same into his batting.
Ganguly operated with the precision of a surgeon on the off-side and there were very few cricketers as good as him on through the off-side. The elegant left-hander was a dangerous customer in the limited overs and there was one tournament he dominated during his playing days. The Champions Trophy.
Under the captaincy of Ganguly, the Indian team was creating a winning habit in the fifty-over format. They were reaching plenty of finals but were winning few of them. And his love for English conditions was quite evident as in the 27 matches he played in England, he went on to score 1034 runs at a strike rate of 74.98. Under him, Indian cricket was on a rapid rise and got the belief to replicate home success in overseas conditions.
During his tenure, Ganguly not only set new records but also built a squad for the future. Under his captaincy, players like Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan flourished and went on to become match-winners for the country.
As far as his own batting was concerned, Ganguly made bowlers pay heavily for their silliest of mistakes and the world witnessed this when he scored an unbeaten 141 against South Africa at Nairobi back in 2000 Champions Trophy. The knock was lace with 11 fours and six maximums. With 665 runs from 13 matches, he has been India’s star performer with the bat in the history of the ICC tournament.
The 1998 and 2000 edition of the Champions Trophy saw Ganguly at his best. The left-hander, however, was not as effective in the 2002 and 2004 editions of the tournament but was still among the top three-run scorers for India with 143 and 90 runs respectively. The 2004 Champions Trophy was his last, which also saw India getting knocked out in the league stages itself.
Not only with the bat, Ganguly holds the record for most catches by a fielder in the tournament. He took 12 catches in 13 matches.
Considered to be one of the best batsmen to have ever played in Champions Trophy, the 44-year old holds the record off highest joint record partnership, 192-run stand with Virender Sehwag against England in 2002, and is the most successful Indian skipper to win seven matches and lift the trophy once.
Yes, India won the trophy under MS Dhoni in 2013 but Ganguly continues to be the star for the Men in Blue in the tournament till now.