Had Sourav Ganguly not backed me in 2001, he would have been sacked from captaincy: Harbhajan Singh

Sourav Ganguly is regarded as one of the finest Indian captains of all time. Ganguly is often credited for backing the youngsters during his time as captain of the Indian side and several players have over the years thanked Ganguly for playing a role in shaping their careers. The likes of Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni among others were all backed by Ganguly as youngsters and went on to become greats of the game.

Ganguly’s ability to trust his players and back them even at their worst often paid rich dividends for the Indian team as they registered come memorable victories both at home and away from home. Former India spinner Harbhajan, who also shone under Ganguly’s captaincy, recently revealed how he once saved the former captain from getting sacked.

Harbhajan made his international debut for India in March 1998 and quickly became one of the mainstays of India’s bowling attack under Ganguly. However, while he had talent, he was too young to be trusted in a Test series against Australia in 2001 and there were question marks over his place in the Indian squad.

Also Read: Harbhajan recalls infamous Sreesanth slapgate row: ‘I made a mistake, It should not have happened’

Harbhajan claimed had Ganguly not backed him and kept him in the squad for the 2001 Australia Test series at home, India might not have won and Ganguly could have been sacked as captain. Harbhajan made the revelation while speaking on Sportskeeda recently.

“Had Ganguly not backed me, he wouldn’t have won that series (2001 vs Australia) and would have been sacked from captaincy. He came like God for me and held my hand and I went on with my job. It helped both my career and his as a captain as he got the extension. He did help me in giving a chance, but then it’s up to the player to make it count,” said the former India spinner.

Harbhajan turned out to be India’s hero in the 2001 Test against Australia after making the cut into the playing XI following an injury to Anil Kumble. He went on to pick up 32 wickets in the series, including a hat-trick at the Eden Gardens as India won 2-1.

Also Read: ‘An all time great’: Ganguly, Vaughan & others hail Joe Root as he completes 10,000 runs in Test cricket

There was no looking back for Harbhajan from there on as he became an integral member of the Indian bowling attack across formats. The former spinner was part of India’s 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 ODI World Cup-winning teams under MS Dhoni. He finished his international career with 417 Test wickets and 269 wickets in ODIs.


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