Sourav Ganguly was one of the best captains India ever produced, and the Prince of Kolkata during his days at the helm gave chance to several youngsters. It was under his guidance that players like Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and MS Dhoni, who became an integral part of the national team.
There was something special about Ganguly, who would make sacrifices in order to give chance to the young guns of the team. Sehwag, who also sacrificed his opening slot to Sehwag, remembers a time when Dhoni was asked to bat at number three and the wicket-keeper scored brilliantly then.
His first century came in 2004 against Pakistan, after batting at number three in Vizag. Till date, he is regarded as one of the finest ODI players for India, having accumulated 9758 runs in 306 matches with 10 hundreds under his belt.
The Nawab of Najafgarh went to the extent of saying that Ganguly's sacrifice helped Dhoni in becoming a great player.
"We were experimenting with the batting order at that time. We decided that if we get a good opening partnership then Sourav Ganguly would come at No.3 but if we had a bad opening stand then we would send pinch hitters like Irfan Pathan or Dhoni to accelerate the scoring rate," Sehwag told India TV.
"Ganguly at that time decided to give Dhoni a chance at No.3 for three or four matches. There are very few captains who would first give away his own batting spot for Virender Sehwag and then his set spot of No.3 for Dhoni. Had Dada (Ganguly) not done that, Dhoni would not have become such a great player. Ganguly always believed in giving chances to new players."
Dhoni after an impressive start to his ODI career, where he began to be known for his big-hitting skills, cemented the wicket-keeper slot for India. Since then, the player has played under various captains like Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and now Virat Kohli.
However, he seems to have learned a great deal from his previous captains, as India won some major titles including the World T20 2007 and World Cup 2011 when Dhoni was the skipper.
The Jharkhand man may no longer be the captain of the Indian team, but is still an integral part of the Men in Blue.