Ganguly or Dhoni: Who Was A Better Test Captain

Sourav Ganguly Vs Dhoni

Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni are the two most successful captains India has produced and witnessed. Sourav Ganguly’s zeal to go the extra mile and MS Dhoni’s presence of mind are the factors that have changed the face of Indian cricket. A fair comparative study of their extraordinary test careers will be the answer to who stood out to be best.

Ganguly’s Test Record

Sourav Ganguly can be considered as one of the most passionate captains of Indian cricket. This man’s record and his contribution to Indian cricket, possibly more so in Test, is something very few talk about. After the match-fixing controversy in 2000, the then captain Sachin Tendulkar stepped down and Ganguly was made captain. Even with a colossal responsibility on his shoulders, he executed his role with absolute magnificence. His prowess as a captain and player made India a superpower in world cricket.

The very year Ganguly made his test debut as a captain, India won the series 2-1 against Australia, emerging from an impasse. He further captained India to 49 test matches winning 21 out of them. Deemed to be the most successful away captain, his presence overseas was felt when India managed a draw at the Gabba, an unquenchable fortress of Australia. He became the only Indian captain to pull such a stint. India drew the test series 1-1 and retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. He scored his first century against Australia, a blistering 144 against the likes of Jason Gillispie and Brett Lee. He was also the first Indian captain to win a test series in Pakistan.

Dhoni’s Test Record

India’s favorite “captain-cool” led his nation to a whopping 60 test matches, the most by any Indian player. He was handed the captaincy in Test cricket in 2008 and has registered the most number of Test wins, 27, shadowing Ganguly’s record. Although deemed to be the most unsuccessful overseas Test record. The former skipper lost 15 out of the 30 matches played overseas. The home record speaks for MS Dhoni. His stint as a captain saw India slip through in Test cricket a number of times.

Despite the questionable away record and irregular performances overseas, it was under MS Dhoni that India topped Test cricket ranking in 2009, for the first time. His 224 runs against Australia is the third-highest score by any Indian skipper. In 2014 during the India tour of Australia, MS Dhoni stepped down from his captaincy following the draw in the third test. Australia won the series 2-0 after the fourth test ended in a draw. Unfortunately, MS Dhoni could not manifest his abilities as a skipper while playing overseas test matches.

Ganguly Vs Dhoni: Style Of Captaincy

Ganguly wore a never-say-die attitude around his collar every time he walked around the pitch. The former Indian captain taught his players to be feisty against sledging, giving the opposition a taste of their own medicine. The then Indian team which lacked a proper wicket keeper saw Rahul Dravid pick up the gloves behind the stumps, and had proved to be a major breakthrough in Ganguly’s strategy. He backed his younger players which ultimately led to a much stronger team India in the near future.

Dhoni, on the other hand, kept his calm. He knew how to turn the game around in his favour, a true leader of the pack. His players looked up to him as a captain who thought a step ahead of his opposition. MS Dhoni can be said as more of a thoughtful captain and Ganguly an impulsive one. Both of which bore fruitful results in their time.

Ganguly Vs Dhoni: Relationship With Players

When Ganguly took up the baton to lead the team. Indian cricket was under scrutiny and faced a lot of criticism from the media. It was during this time when he showed his courage to invest his trust in players regarding whom the selection committee was indecisive. He would go on to put his captaincy at stake to have Anil Kumble play in the 2001 Australia test series. Sourav Ganguly can be said to be the fore-sighted individual who saw what players like Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, and Virender Sehwag could offer the team upon his arrival and also after his departure.

Dhoni however had a senior team to manage. He spearheaded a team that had the confidence and quality to go to the top. India topped the ICC test cricket ranking in 2009, which was another feather in Dhoni’s cap. Although managing such a senior team, the players trusted MS Dhoni to be the best judge of unfavorable situations. Players like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Suresh Raina would be forever indebted for MS Dhoni’s contribution in nurturing them. 

Final Verdict

A glance at the achievements would suggest Dhoni to be the more successful captain. However the statistics speak for Sourav Ganguly as he emerged successful when India needed to establish itself as a cricketing powerhouse. There is no doubt that Sourav Ganguly laid the foundation for what Indian Test cricket has grown to be. Dhoni build upon it and developed it into an unbeatable fortress.