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May 11, 2012 at 09:10pm IST

Rajdeep Sardesai on Ganguly in IPL 5

Hello and welcome to DRS. My very own take on what is happening in the world of cricket. I thought today we should focus on one of the most intriguing aspects of IPL 5: the role of Pune Warriors India captain, Sourav Ganguly. No Indian cricketer in recent times has been as controversial and yet as charismatic as 'Dada' or the 'Prince of Kolkata' as he is called.

There was a graphic example of this when Kolkata Knight Riders played Pune Warriors India at the Eden Gardens. The crowd obviously wanted Kolkata to win, but at the same time they wanted Dada to do well. In fact, I got a sense if Dada carried Pune to victory, the crowd wouldn't have minded it so much. I don't think anyone has had that kind of a relationship with his home crowd in the manner that Sourav has had.

For a while it appeared that Sourav was reliving the magic of the past. He got a couple of wickets in a match against Delhi Daredevils to take his side to victory. Even in the Kolkata game, there were flashes of brilliance from the past. But the fact is, and this is really what I thought we should raise, whether at 39 Sourav should have been more in the nature of a non-playing captain, a mentor for the Pune team, rather than trying to prove himself all over again on the cricket field? He retired from international cricket two years ago or, as he would say, was forced to retire.

Either way, by taking the place of a younger player like Manish Pandey, who really has hopes to play for India in the future, was Dada trying to prove a point to his detractors? Because, I would have thought Sourav Ganguly has now achieved it all on the cricket field, why did Sourav then need to play the IPL 5? Does he want to show someone that 'look, I am still good enough to play T20 cricket' or did he do it for the money? I sometimes wonder whether Indian cricketers forget that there must come a time when you got to say goodbye to certain aspects of the sport. I really believe that Sourav has much to offer to Indian cricket in terms of his wisdom, in terms of his ideas.

But does he need to do that by playing cricket? Could he have been more effective as a non-playing captain or as a mentor of the Pune team? Clearly, this is a question that in the end only Sourav can answer.

I would like to remember Sourav as the master of the offside. A cricketer who, as captain in particular, really brought a new kind of self-belief to the Indian team. I don't want to remember Sourav as a cricketer struggling in IPL 5 to hit those sixes that he used to once do so effortlessly. I think Sourav Ganguly's case is a test study for all the cricketers reaching the autumn of their career to decide there comes a time when it's best to gracefully bow out and say goodbye.

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