Though India and Pakistan hardly play any bilateral series nowadays due to political tensions, their rivalry on the field, which has assumed jingoistic proportions over the years, is a part of cricketing folklore. However, there were some players who shared a great rapport off the field owing to their cultural similarities.
Some connections were also formed in the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in which the Pakistani players were allowed to play. In his latest post on Instagram, Shoaib Akhtar termed former India captain Sourav Ganguly a “great captain”.
“One of my toughest opposition(s) was the man himself @souravganguly. Not only a tough opposition but a great captain having played under his leadership for @kkriders,” read the post.
Any ardent cricket fan would echo the same sentiment for it was under Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy that India registered their first Test series win in Pakistan – when they beat their arch-rivals 2-1 in a 3-Test series in 2003/04. India had also won the limited overs leg 3-2.
The former Pakistan pacer’s comment will make sense in terms of individual performance too. Sourav Ganguly scored just one of his 16 Test centuries at his home ground Eden Gardens. And it was against Pakistan in 2007. His highest Test score of 239 came in the very next match in Bengaluru, also against Pakistan.
Shoaib Akhtar impressed during his IPL stint under Sourav Ganguly
In addition to being privy to the current BCCI president’s feats as captain, the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ got a first-hand experience of Sourav Ganguly’s leadership while playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2008. He was an instant hit after the match-winning spell of 4 for 11 against the erstwhile Delhi Daredevils.
When Sourav Ganguly was announced president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Akhtar, on his YouTube channel had heaped praise on him, saying, “I never imagined India could beat Pakistan, until Sourav Ganguly became the Indian captain.”